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While browsing reddit I came across the expression 乙嫁語り and its translation as A Bride's story.

Now I'm not really far into my kanji studies (maybe a 400-500 characters in), but since I recognized the 語 and the 嫁, I was a bit confused how one can translate this as A Bride's story. If I'm not mistaken this should be read as Otoyomegatari (Googleing the name of the Manga confirms this).

  1. What exactly is the 乙 doing here? Otoyome can be translated as younger brothers wife, although then its written as 弟嫁 and not as 乙嫁. And as far as I understand the kanji 乙 itself means something along the lines of the latter, duplicate, strange, witty, which doesn't seem to be related to the title at all.
  2. When talking about the word tale I immediately think about the word 物語, so reading 語り confused me a bit since according to jisho.org it means something along the lines of talk, narration, topic --- so a word that would maybe used to describe a conversation and less a story/tale.

So can somebody maybe explain to me how we get to the translation A Bride's story?

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  1. おと (弟 or 乙 in kanji) is an archaic prefix meaning "younger/youngest (in a family, regardless of sex)" or "little lovely". From a 古語辞典:

    おと- 【弟・乙】

    接頭語
    ①〔人を表す語または人名に付けて〕年下の。末の。「兄(え)宇迦斯(うかし)・弟宇迦斯」。
    ②〔人を表す語または人名に付けて〕美しい。愛する。年若い。かわいい。「弟橘比売命(たちばなひめのみこと)」

    I don't know how common 乙嫁 was in real archaic Japanese, but the official site clearly says 乙嫁 in this manga means "beautiful bride". This also means even an average native speaker does not know what 乙嫁 means. As an aside, you can read about a recent derivative meaning of 乙 here.

  2. The modern primary meaning of 語り is indeed "narration" (as in a documentary film), but since it's used with an unfamiliar archaic word here, I take it as a nominalized version of 語る (i.e., "talking"). But 物語 is etymologically just 語り preceded by 物, so you can take it simply as a variant of 物語, too.

So possible literal translations of 乙嫁語り would be "Story of a Beautiful Bride" or "Talking about a Beautiful Bride".

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