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The following sentence stands isolated:

昔から川を治める者が国をよく治めると言われてきた。

"From olden days we are told that the persons who rule the river(s) often rule the country."

I guess this きた expresses that something comes to me/us here? I didn't encounter it in a temporal function yet, only in spatial semantics so far. Thats why I wanted to ask about it.

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    "言われてきた。... we are told that..." <- It's " it has been told that ...", right? The doer of the action 言う is we/people, no?
    – Chocolate
    Sep 14 '17 at 21:53
  • @Chocolate "It has been told that" sounds a little strange". "It has been said that" would be better. What is the problem with "We have been told that"? I can't understand why the pronoun "it" is better than "we" here. Sep 15 '17 at 6:59
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    @user3856370 そうですね、"It has been said that..." がいいと思います。 Here, it doesn't mean "We have been told..." or 私たちが(誰かに)言われてきた, since the subject of 言われる (to be said) is not "we/人々/我々" but what has been said, i.e. 「川を治める者が国をよく治める」. The active voice 「昔から、人々は『川を治める者が国をよく治める』と言ってきた」 is turned into the passive voice 「昔から、『川を治める者が国をよく治める』と(人々によって)言われてきた」.
    – Chocolate
    Sep 15 '17 at 7:39
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    (cont.) "Since early times, it has been said that the one who rules the river(s) rules the country well." It's not the passive form of 「昔から、人々は『川を治める者が国をよく治める』と我々に言ってきた」. By the way, @Narktor, the よく is not "often" but "well, successfully (上手に、うまく)."
    – Chocolate
    Sep 15 '17 at 7:51
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From olden days we are told that the persons who rule the river(s) often rule the country."

is translated as: 昔から川を治める者が国をよく治めると言われている。

And 

昔から川を治める者が国をよく治めると言われてきた

is translated as:

From olden days we have been told that the persons who rule the river(s) often rule the country."

きた in this context indicates the continuation from the past to the present.

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    Where do you get "we" from? Sep 15 '17 at 0:14
  • I got the "we" from the original poster's translation. I respect their translation and tried to make the least change to their original translation. And I agree with their translation as well.
    – user1118
    Sep 15 '17 at 4:15
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I think of 言われてきた as "it has come to be said".

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    it has come to be said <- それって「言われるようになった」とかじゃないんですかね・・
    – Chocolate
    Sep 15 '17 at 3:10
  • その通りはより正確でしょうね 。 Sep 15 '17 at 3:20

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