I came across a cover version of "Bad Apple", where the singer uses a more traditional style than the original song, including a translation of the (modern) lyrics into more archaic/poetic language.

In one part of the song, I heard what sounds like 「まわりて」, although the lyrics on-screen say 「まはりて」. The corresponding line from the original (in modern language) is 廻って【まわって】, which looks like it's related, although I'm not quite sure what's going on. In both versions, the preceding word is クルクル.

So, what I'm wondering:

  • Am I correct in assuming that まはりて is an archaic form of 廻って?
  • Why does it seem to use -りて as the て form? Is the って ending for verbs ending in る a modern trait?
  • In any case, is it normal for an archaic は to be pronounced as a modern わ? Or, is that 3 morphemes, 「ま」 and (particle) 「は」 and a verb 「りて」? (later on, I do hear 「ハラハラ」, so I suspect that might be the particle 「は」, but I'm not sure)
  • I have a feeling it's related to how the particle で was etymologically にて. And で is sometimes said to be the て-form of the copula だ. So my (unsubstantiated) guess is that verb declension ending in its い-row syllable with て appended is the archaic て-form for verbs. (Nice find by the way, I really like this song =) )
    – Flaw
    Commented May 29, 2018 at 14:30
  • 1
    Related: japanese.stackexchange.com/a/17497/5010 See also Historical Kana Orthography.
    – naruto
    Commented May 29, 2018 at 15:41

1 Answer 1

  • Yes, you are. It is.

  • Between Middle and Modern Japanese, there were several sound changes affecting verb forms with て and た. One of these is a change of *-rit- to -tt-. Notice how て and た just attach to the plain 連用形 for verbs with a 終止形 in す (eg 話して)? That used to be true for all verbs - やりて from やる, 学びて from 学ぶ, etc.

  • This is another sound change question, but it also touches on spelling. In Early Middle Japanese, the は行 kana were all pronounced with *ɸ (a sound like [f] but without your teeth); but between vowels, they changed to [w] sometime before Late Middle Japanese. The spelling was altered to reflect the change to [w] in 1946 for all cases except the topic marker. Before 1946 (but after the above *-rit- to -tt- change), 廻って would have been written phonetically as まはつて.

  • Ah, so there were two regular sound changes in は行 kana. That does make the relation between the classical and modern form more obvious. I knew about the *ɸ -> [h] change (with [ɸ] retained for ふ, from what I recall), but was unaware that the change to [w] had affected more than just the topic marker.
    – Soron
    Commented May 29, 2018 at 15:04
  • Yeah, it affected all *ɸ intervocalically, but the effects of that change have been almost entirely hidden in the modern orthography, as it treats all [w] the same regardless of historical source.
    – Sjiveru
    Commented May 29, 2018 at 16:09
  • 1
    @EthanKaminski even better, three: before /ɸ/ it was /p/, which is why rendaku voicing turns modern /h/ to /b/ and sokuon gemination turns /h/ to /pp/. And then there's the loss of /w/ before /e,o,i/, merging ゑをゐ=えおい=medial へほひ. The medial status of /ɸ/→/w/ is interesting; it means 舞ひ /maɸi/ → /mawi/ → /mai/ but 朝日 /asaɸi/ → /asahi/. (btw you don't need an asterisk before /ɸ/; it's attested in the Jesuit 16c materials, written as ‹f›, and they even took the trouble to inform us that it’s a bilabial ‹f›.) Commented May 29, 2018 at 16:53
  • @boiko I know the asterisk isn't -technically- correct, but I'm using it to more clearly distinguish between non-current and current forms.
    – Sjiveru
    Commented May 29, 2018 at 19:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .