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I have trouble understanding the 寄らば from:

寄{よ}らば大樹{たいじゅ}の陰{かげ}.

I know it comes from 寄る (to approach/to come near). But how does it becomes 寄らば and what meaning it implies?

The ば should be the same as 寄れば. But I have no idea about the ら...

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寄らば is the classical (文語) or archaic (古語) conditional-form of 寄る. In modern standard Japanese, it's 寄れば.

In modern Japanese, the conditional-form (aka ba-form) of a verb ends with "-eba", as you already know. In archaic Japanese, however, some verbs (namely 四段動詞) took this "-aba" form. (And "-eba" was used for different purposes similar to "because" or "even though".) Actually this "-a + ba" is the 未然形 ("irrealis form") of a verb followed by the conjunctive particle ば. But it's not worth memorizing this table unless you're studying classic Japanese literature.

You can see this archaic form today in proverbs like this one and fixed phrases such as 隙あらば (隙があれば, "if there is any chance") and 死なばもろとも.

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  • And don't forget the classical way of saying "goodbye", oft-heard in manga and anime: さらば, from 然【さ】らば, expanding (in the modern language) to そうあれば. – Eiríkr Útlendi Oct 17 '19 at 15:26
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寄らば =もし寄るならば =もし寄るとするならば

寄ら=「寄る」というラ行四段活用の古文動詞(文語動詞)の未然形

寄れ=「寄る」というラ行五段活用の(口語)動詞の仮定形

ば=文語動詞の未然形、または口語動詞の仮定形につく接続助詞 (a conjunction)

Therefore, 寄らば大樹の陰 and 寄れば大樹の陰 are both correct grammatically. However, the former is the set phrase because it's an old proverb. :)

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  • 寄れ=「寄る」というラ行四段活用の古文動詞の已然形 I have always thought this is the 仮定形 of a 五段 verb when it's followed by ば. Is this incorrect or what is the meaning of 四段 已然形 + ば? – siikamiika Aug 10 '17 at 11:04
  • Thank you, sikamika, for your suggestion. I was wrong and you're right! I'll edit it. Thanks again. – user1118 Aug 10 '17 at 11:14
  • Actually, after reading naruto's answer, I think the previous text you had could be this: And "-eba" was used for different purposes similar to "because" or "even though". But no idea if it would fit the context because I haven't studied 文語. – siikamiika Aug 10 '17 at 11:19
  • Thanks again. I'd like to stick to my edit version because it is easier to understand. The comparison between old Japanese and modern Japanese seems persuading. And I have to confess that I'm not sure about the old Japanese grammar, either. – user1118 Aug 10 '17 at 11:37
  • ば=文語動詞の未然形、または口語動詞の仮定形につく接続助詞 ☜ これは正確ではないのでは? 意味は異なりますが、「ば」は文語動詞の已然形にもつきますし。 – Chocolate Oct 17 '19 at 10:10

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