4

I heard this sentence pattern watching an anime (where A and B have similar meanings, but B is much stronger):

....[description A] いや、もはや [description B]と言っていい。

I looked up もはや expecting a definition like "rather", as in "it was [A], or rather, it was [B]". Instead I found "already, now", as in "He is no longer a child" もはや子供ではない。

I looked around and that's the only definition I've found...however, I did see that on goo it did say まさに was a word for it, which means "exactly". I'm guessing that would make this mean "[A], or more exactly [B]". Can someone confirm this? This wasn't a secondary entry in the definition, just a line in the first, "already" definition, but it seems to me a very different usage. Can someone clarify this for me?

  • I can't look it up or write a proper answer right now, but I had always thought (perhaps incorrectly) that もはや was the same as (and maybe even etymologically linked to) もう. – ジョン May 6 '12 at 19:25
6

As ジョン says, the similarities are very strong between もはや and もう.

The meaning is that something has now reached a certain state, leaving its past state behind. This can imply that the change is irreversible.

彼はもはや犯罪者だ。 He's a criminal now. (he's now reached that point, and there is no turning back from it.)

彼はもう社長です。 He's a company president now. (cast away any thoughts you might have had of him as a lower-paid employee -- that is no longer true)

もはやXと言っていい means that it is, by now, OK to call it X (probably: there's now enough evidence/reason to support the statement), and this is the new irreversible state -- we're casting off the old state of not calling it X.

This corresponds to 大辞泉's second sense of もはや:

2 ある事態が 変えられないところ まで進んでいるさま。今となっては。もう。「―如何ともしがたい」「―これまで」

I don't see any context/reason to interpret it as "actually" or "or rather".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.