I always understood てほしい as "I want/need you to". How does it make sense in this context where a kidnapper in a drama says:

姫を返してほしくば 城を明け渡せ

Per this translation: If I want you to return the princess, surrender the castle.

Shouldnt てほしい also mean "You want/need me to" For the correct translation to be: If you want me to return the princess, surrender the castle

  • 1
    is it really ほしくば and not ほしくは or ほしければ?
    – A.Ellett
    Sep 26 '20 at 19:45
  • 2
    @Ellet, Yes, it's ほしくば. Related? japanese.stackexchange.com/q/54629/9831 (さも)なくば→(そうで)なければ, Vたくば→Vたければ, ほしくば→ほしければ.
    – Chocolate
    Sep 27 '20 at 6:57
  • @Chocolate thank you for that link. i found it very useful.
    – A.Ellett
    Sep 28 '20 at 1:37

I think it is "If you want me to return the princess, surrender the castle" as you said.

「VVVてほしくば」=「VVVてほしければ」= "If [you (the listener)] wanted (someone/some people who can control the action of VVV) to VVV" where VVVて is an action. 「ほしくば」sounds old, overly elegant, or demanding while 「ほしければ」is more contemporary, less elegant, and less demanding.


食(た)べてほしければ = If [you] wanted (person/people in control) to eat

止(や)めてほしければ = If [you] wanted (person/people in control) to stop

辞(や)めてほしければ = If [you] wanted (person/people in control) to resign

解放(かいほう)してほしければ = If [you] wanted (person/people in control) to release (some people)

連(つ)れて行(い)ってほしければ = If [you] wanted (person/people in control) to take (some people) (somewhere)

I am just answering from my language experience (Japanese is my first language) and I am not a scholar. I hope I helped a little bit.

  • 1
    Hey yes thank you !!! The speaker is from Sengoku Jidai. Sep 26 '20 at 21:40
  • So basically てほしい can mean either the speaker want X to do something or to state that the listener want X to do something. Example: 私はあなたに食べてほしい - I want you to eat; あなたは私に食べてほしい - you want me to eat. Sep 26 '20 at 21:42
  • And in conditional form: 私は食べてほしければ - if want to eat; あなたは食べてほしければ - if you want to eat Sep 26 '20 at 21:46
  • 3
    Please note that「娘」could be... -- Hm? It's in the OP's sentence.
    – Chocolate
    Sep 27 '20 at 6:42
  • You're right 「姫」is princess. My bad there is no 「娘」in the original question LOL. I am going to fix my answer. Sep 28 '20 at 9:07

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