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I noticed this phrase :

うらめしや

said by a character in a game I played, and was wondering what it means.

This site suggests

"Urameshiya" is a phrase said, in a sorrowful voice, by Japanese ghosts when they appear. It means, a curse on you.

Google translate gives

Annoying

The best I could find on jisho:

恨めしい

  1. reproachful; hateful; bitter​

I suspect the first one to be correct (given that the context is related to halloween and haunting). Is there a reasonable english translation for this、and if the one given is correct, how do the components break down to give that meaning (if at all)?

Thank you

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うらめしい has two different meanings (the topic is usually "I", which is almost always omitted):

  1. I have a grudge; I'm angry; I'm revengeful
  2. It's a pity; It's regrettable; It's sad; I feel sorry

In うらめしや, it's clearly the first sense. や at the end is an old particle that adds exclamatory feelings, similarly to modern ~だなあ or English "oh". So it just means "Oh I'm so revengeful." You can see similar grammar in haiku and hymns (e.g., うれしや ≒ ああ嬉しいな, めでたや ≒ めでたいなあ).

うらめしや is considered a stereotyped (and overused) phrase said by typical Japanese ghosts like this. It's commonly used in children's pretend plays (example), but serious(?) ghosts in haunted attractions seldom say this, I think.

  • How come that the old や particle consumes the adjective い ending? – Glutexo May 16 '18 at 15:41
  • @Glutexo In old Japanese, there was no such a thing as い-ending in the first place. – naruto May 16 '18 at 17:05
  • So when this old particle is used, it is attached to the old 終止形 of the adjective, right? – Glutexo May 22 '18 at 6:14
  • @Glutexo According to this rule, yes. 「終止形に付いて詠嘆の意をあらわす」 – naruto May 22 '18 at 6:49
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According to this dictionary, うらめしや is considered to be a word said by ghosts when they appear:

幽霊が出てくるときに言うとされる言葉。「恨めしいなあ」の意

So your first guess is correct. うらめしや has the meaning of "I curse you / I'm cursing you" (あなたの事を恨{うら}んでいる).

To furthermore break it down, as also the first link suggests, at the root of うらめしや probably is the adjective 恨{うら}めしい that means "hateful", "bitter", while I think that や here functions as a particle that adds some emphasis to the feeling (of hate/curse/revenge in this case).

This is at least what you can see explained at this link. However, I am not 100% sure that "emphasis" is the most appropriate description for や in general as a suffix. I think it works in this case (maybe someone can comment), but in general may have different meanings. See for example here and here.

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