I saw it in this tanka that I'm trying to translate:


  • I found that page but my japanese is not that good and i don't understand what that means...
    – Paloma
    Aug 20, 2020 at 13:43
  • 1
    FYI my translation attempt is "Even in this world with falsehoods, gooses don't forget the promises (they made) in their homelands, which must be why they go (back to their homelands)."
    – naruto
    Aug 20, 2020 at 18:55
  • @naruto I don’t think this poet is making a comment about the behavior of geese in general, as in your translation, but responding poetically, in the moment, to the sight of some actual geese flying through the sky. (Or at a minimum, the poem is meant to be read as if it were a spontaneous response to such a sight.) The use of らん helps to create this sense of immediacy. So the gist is more like “Those geese [that I see in the sky] must be going home because, even in this world of falsehoods, they haven’t forgotten their vows to those they’ve left behind.”
    – Nanigashi
    Aug 21, 2020 at 20:08
  • @Nanigashi Thank you, "must be going" should be better.
    – naruto
    Aug 21, 2020 at 21:15

1 Answer 1


In this sentence, ゆくらん = ゆく "go" + らん. らん is a later spelling for the auxiliary らむ. It falls under the following definition.

② 〔現在の原因の推量〕…(のため)だろう。どうして…だろう。▽目の前の事態からその原因・理由となる事柄を推量する。
must be —ing because of; why should ... be —ing? (speculating the cause/reason out of the present state of affairs)

Addendum: the translation of so-called 原因推量 usage of らむ could be tricky, because it is used in such a construction:


to mean "V1, [which must be] why V2 now". Thus if V1 is not provided, it becomes "why [have to (end up)] V2 now". For the latter case, a word means "why" can be explicitly added, too.

  • 「嘘ばかりのこの世の中にあっても、雁は故郷との約束を忘れず(故郷に帰って)行っているのだろう」と、①のように解釈して回答書きかけていたのですが、②なんですか…「どうして雁は故郷との約束を忘れず戻っていくのだろう」という感じですか?
    – naruto
    Aug 20, 2020 at 16:16
  • 1
    @naruto そうですね…。読みとしては「故郷での約束を忘れないでいるので雁は(帰って)行くのだろう」と解釈して、これは記憶が正しければ②の区分だったと思います。「どうして」というわけではないです。 Aug 20, 2020 at 16:21
  • あ、それで "it must be the reason why ~" になるんですね、納得しました、ありがとうございました。
    – naruto
    Aug 20, 2020 at 16:22
  • @naruto ちょっと英訳に難儀してるんですけどまあw 旺文社古語辞典では「…というので…しているのだろう」ともうちょっとこなれてましたね Aug 20, 2020 at 16:28

You must log in to answer this question.

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