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Spoilers from the fourth episode of Utawarerumono - Futari no Hakuoro (since it's airing now).

In this episode a princess just returned from another country with a memory loss; the country she returned from is now in political upheaval, and the princess' country plans to invade it.

After regaining her memories, she tries to get back to that country to help her friends, but towards the end of the episode her father and aids stops her, saying to look at the big picture; she then asks her father to appoint ther as head of the invasion forces, and while asking this she changes voice from a soft one to a more strong one, and shifts from わたくし to われ.

I tried to understand the implication of this shift in referring to herself, but I wasn't able to understand it; so I was wondering, what kind of implications could have shifting from わたくし to われ?

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  • What are the full sentences? It's possible that われ is used as a part of a set phrase or otherwise ritualistic way of speaking. Jul 17 at 4:11
  • やまとに我が行く。お父様、やまと遠征の采配我に一任を。見事やまと落としてごらんにいれます。
    – Mauro
    Jul 17 at 7:20

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Short answer is that われ indicates she is speaking as a princess while わたくし is a (very) polite I. So the shift exactly expresses that her memory is recovered.

In terms of real usage, われ as a first person pronoun is obsolete. I cannot imagine anybody of any class using it in modern speech. In modern fictions, it is often used by noble people. わらわ is a feminine version. The choice of われ in the particular case may suggest that the character has assertiveness/strength/masculinity.

われ is a standard pronoun in Kanbun-style writing, and as such it may be possibly used today in such texts (which are rare anyway).

On the other hand, わたくし is simply a polite reading of 私 and it is not surprising that someone uses it in a formal enough setting.

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  • Not sure if this is relevant, but she recovers her memory some time before she starts using われ; should I read it that she accepts her role as princess, that she can't just go back to help her friends?
    – Mauro
    Jul 17 at 7:17
  • Also, when she speaks to herself, saying that the time when she chould just be herself is over, she reverts to the soft tone and to わたくし.
    – Mauro
    Jul 17 at 7:27
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    @Mauro Then it may be, as you guess, that she (accepts her role and) acts as expected from others (as a princess). われ is a pronoun that adds solemnity in speech towards subordinates.
    – sundowner
    Jul 17 at 10:19
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    I don't know if there is an English equivalent, but an analogy is like a king/queen/prince(ss) using "my highness" when speaking in public while using just I in private.
    – sundowner
    Jul 17 at 10:25
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    @Mauro I can imagine two possibilities: (1) in presence of others, it is a part of solemnity towards them (2) if she is alone with Father, it should be suggesting her independence or simply that is the way how nobles talk among themselves (it is still "in public" to an extent).
    – sundowner
    Jul 17 at 22:08

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