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I found this sentence in the song 「光と闇の童話」:

花に水を遣るように 儘 罪には罰が要る

What does 「儘」mean there?

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    Hi there, thanks for your first question on JLSE! As a new member of the community, please do read our guidelines (see: japanese.stackexchange.com/help) over what constitutes an 'on-topic' question. As for your question, could you provide some research and suggestions over what you think the translation might be in this context, and/or why you are struggling with the meaning? This will help you to get a better answer to your question, while also making it more helpful to others. Otherwise, your question could constitute an 'off-topic' question, which may be deleted. Welcome once again!
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    Jul 31, 2022 at 19:18
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    Jul 31, 2022 at 19:24

2 Answers 2

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To be honest, it doesn't make much sense, and I think what it means is just open for (creative) interpretation. Songs and poems can sometimes do that.

It seems like the songwriter uses 儘 (まま) in other songs in a similar way. Maybe that's part of their personal language. From 暁光の唄

暗闇の時代に生まれて 儘 君と出逢い

The most plausible reading is まま, and as I said, it doesn't make sense in any of the two contexts. I might think it as "naturally" or "automatically", associating it with other phrases that include it, such as そのまま. That's kind of a stretch, but it's the best I can do.

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Problem: odd grammar

As Yusuke Matsubara's separate answer post notes, the 儘【まま】 in the song lyrics doesn't make a lot of sense. In terms of the grammar, 儘【まま】 is a noun, so syntactically, we would expect よう[な]{●} to precede it, but instead we have よう[に]{●}, which produces an ungrammatical construction.

I went digging to see if I could find any usage for 儘【まま】 that would fit the syntax of the lyrics.

Reference

My go-to reference for Japanese is the monolingual 日本国語大辞典【にほんこくごだいじてん】 (NKD). This is similar to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) in terms of the quality of the resource itself. The Kotobank reference aggregator provides free access to an abridged version of the NKD. Their entry for 儘【まま】 is here.

Finding the sense that fits

Almost all of the senses listed in the entry are for nouns, which would not work at all in the grammatical structure of the sample lyric line.

One sense that could work is rather amusingly an editor's mark, using 儘【まま】 to indicate that the text should remain as it is in the original. See sense [1]-⑥ in the NKD entry. This is probably not the source of the 儘【まま】 in the lyric, though, unless we assume that the manuscript went through a proofreading / editing pass, and then they accidentally kept that 儘【まま】 in place. Unlikely, but funny to think about.

Another sense that would fit the structure, and which I think is the only one that could meaningfully apply here, is sense [1]-⑤-(ロ). This sense derives from the fuller expression 儘【まま】よ, NKD entry here. This is more like an interjection, and can fit into the grammar of the lyric. The meaning basically works out to something like "anyway; things will turn out as they will; it is what it is".

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