Questions tagged [classical-japanese]

文語(古文). The classical literary form of the language based on Early Middle Japanese.

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2answers
235 views

征伐, せいばつ, seibatsu: a conquest or a 'righteous conquest'?

征伐, せいばつ, seibatsu An old Japanese friend suggested that 征伐, “conquest,” has a moral tone to it and might be better translated as “righteous conquest,” however, most dictionaries simply define it as ...
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324 views

What does the ぬ in 詰まぬ mean?

I encountered a Shogi saying: 三桂あって詰まぬこと無し And I'm pretty confused about the ぬ there. If it was る I'd expect the meaning to be something like: "If you have 3 knights, you can't be mated" But ...
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153 views

漢文・古文-type expressions that survive in modern Japanese

I was translating an academic paper that quoted some articles that were written before WW2, and I came across the expressions [noun]+たらしむべく and きたらしめる (from 来る) for the first time. Thanks to these ...
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291 views

Question about verbs in Old Japanese

Does anybody with in-depth knowledge of Old Japanese know why vowel-based verbal stems could only end in -e or -i (leading to the える/いる or type 2 class of verbs in Modern Japanese)? Why are there no ...
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672 views

Can 〜んとする mean “to pretend, to act as if”?

I'm trying to understand the meaning of the first sentence: 刀の力で日本を牛耳らんとする玲爾{れいじ}たち。その企みを見抜いた晴馬{はるま}たちは...etc. My translation would be "Reiji and his men are not trying to control Japan with the ...
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Classical: On the subject of a sentence with 連用形/て clauses + ば condicional

I'm having some trouble with this beautiful passage from the Kana Preface to the Kokinshū, which is talking about us (spaced for clarity):  1 人まろ なくなりにたれど、  2 うたの こと ゝどまれるかな。  3. たとひ とき うつり こと ...
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115 views

Are there any differences between 〜けらず and 〜ざりけり? Are they interchangeable?

Was ~ざりけり used in place of 〜けらず, for example in 知りけらず, to indicate the past tense in the negative form? Did 知らざりけり exist?
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Cannot recognise the kanji in a cartouche 保里尾[ ][ ][ ]晴

In the context of a C19th work titled Takamatsu no shiro mizuzeme no zu, "Picture of the Flooding of Takamatsu Castle" (髙松城水責之圖 with furigana たかまつのしろみづぜめのづ), there is a name cartouche, but I am ...
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Why is there a が in 深淵に臨むが如し?

In the sentence 深淵に臨むが如し why is there a particle が after the verb 臨む? Shouldn't it be 深淵に臨むよう?
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Why does the 文語 version of the Bible have so many nonstandard readings?

For example in Genesis 1: 元始{はじめ}に神{かみ} 天地{てんち}を創造{つくり}たまへり Why are the kanji 元始 and 創造 given the interesting readings? Moreover, they seem to be given the readings of the less specific words 始め ...
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403 views

拈得せん in a writing by Genkaku

水中に月を捉ふ爭でか拈得せん What does 拈得せん mean there? Is some classical construction? I cant quite find an explanation for it
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寄らば from 寄らば大樹の陰

I have trouble understanding the 寄らば from: 寄{よ}らば大樹{たいじゅ}の陰{かげ}. I know it comes from 寄る (to approach/to come near). But how does it becomes 寄らば and what meaning it implies? The ば should be the ...
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What does 「なりき」 mean in this context?

I came across the sentence 「宇宙KOMAなりき」in a Dragon Ball song. The context is like this: 回り磁極踊れば 大地も空も 世界は巡る 宇宙KOMAなりき The song lyrics are here: http://www.kget.jp/lyric/112532/KOMA_CHIHO What ...
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179 views

What is the ki used for in this sentence? 懐かし き 故郷 [duplicate]

I'm translating a song as part of a project. What is ki used for? Is it a prefix for kokyou? Natsukashi ki kokyou 晴天の日の少々、感傷に浸る午後 懐かしき故郷 夢見な理想郷 忘れがちな嘘 あるまじきEmotion 企みし今生の消せぬ怨霊の炎
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699 views

What's this -れり ending?

I'm really a 初心者 when it comes to Classical Japanese, and I guess that is what I have here... 一日の苦労は一日にて足れり. 【聖】 Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Please, can someone tell me what ...
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When is 事業 read as じぎょう and when as ことわざ

I came across the following sentence from the Dictionary of Japanese Grammar series: X氏は、一方で慈善事業をやりながら、他方でかなりあくどい商売をしているという噂だ。 I think 慈善事業 should be read as じぜんじぎょう. But as I look up the dictionary ...
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かつおぶし but かつをぶし

While explaining かつおぶし via the English Wikipedia. There is a picture that has かつをぶし on a のれん: In the dialect that I speak, we do make vocal substitutions, but we generally write with standard かな。If ...
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178 views

using 未然形 and 已然形 with conditional ば

I am reading through Shirane Haruo's Classical Japanese: A Grammar, and I've come across what I think is a discrepancy. The example given for ナ変 verbs is 死ぬ: Mizenkei: 死なば一所で死なん. SHINA-ba issho de ...
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132 views

Translation for [竜とは逃げぬものなれば]

new in the language so I am having a hard time figuring out the meaning of this sentence. 'When it comes to dragons, you can't escape' would be my translation, but pretty sure I am wrong. If it doesn'...
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Medieval Japanese

Is reading early Medieval Japanese for a modern Japanese speaker like reading Chaucer for a modern English speaker? Ie, slow and head-scratching but otherwise can get the gist of it.
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307 views

What is かたじけのう?

This is a quotation from a fairy tale. A young man was turned into a samurai: 信じがたきことなれど、拙者サムライでござる。かたじけのうござる。 I read the first part as 'Although it is hard to believe, I am a samurai'. What is ...
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674 views

Translating 鳴神の少し響みてさし曇り… etc

This passage of the movie, Kotonoha No Niwa: 鳴る神の 少し響みてさし曇り 雨も降らぬか きみを留めむ Several sites translate as: A faint clap of thunder, clouded skies. Perhaps rain will come. If so, will ...
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274 views

「の」followed by 「…なき」

In the lyrics of a song by Utada Hikaru I came across two lines (starting from 0:40) saying: 開いたばかりの花が散るのを 見ていた木立の遣る瀬無きかな My questions: How to explain the 「の」 in the second line? I guess the 「かな」at ...
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287 views

Meaning of 折らで in a haiku

From Basho: 蓮池や折らでそのまま玉祭 I have the impression that 折らで would be 折らないで without ない. If that's the case is it an artistic choice or some obscure grammar?
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どうして「お聞き遊ばして」が現代語訳では「お吸いなさいまして」になるのか分からない

現代訳を頼りに、泉鏡花さんの「外科室」を読もうとしているところですが、分からない箇所があります。 原文の  看護婦は医学士の旨を領してのち、かの腰元に立ち向かいて、 「もう、なんですから、あのことを、ちょっと、あなたから」  腰元はその意を得て、手術台に擦り寄りつ、優に膝のあたりまで両手を下げて、しとやかに立礼し、 「夫人、ただいま、お薬を差し上げます。どうぞそれを、...
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283 views

What verb form is くださねばなるまい

The following is from a mystery manga. The criminal mastermind is lamenting that his accomplice Masumi failed to properly kill Kimisawa. ますみの奴・・・ 最後の最後でしくじったな あの至近距離でよもや急所をはずす ...
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233 views

What is this 連用形+ゆる grammar? How is it different from the potential form?

I have come across this grammar a lot lately: 連用形+ゆる For example, in this comment, 文語と現代語を交じたる文はインターネットで見ゆるなあ I've also heard しゆる. Judging from the context I think that this grammar is similar ...
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What is the way 召されなば is conjugated?

In a bit old Japanese, the phrase: 草鞋{わらじ}を召{め}されなば means "if you (talking to a superior) put on the straw sandals" (I assume from the context). Where does the conjugation ~なば of 召される come from?
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Trouble understanding small bits of poetry in a japanese novel

Recently, I bought my first all-in-japanese novel to improve my reading skills. The novel itself uses a modern, very simple grammar (it's Ningen no kouta by Kō Machida) so it's not hard to understand. ...
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How should I translate “驚破という場合に望みては”?

I am reading 外科室. At some point, there is this sentence: さてはいかなる医学士も、[驚破]{すわ}という場合に望みては、さすがに懸念のなからんやと、予は同情を表したりき。 [驚破]{すわ}という場合 is a reference to an earlier passage, 手術台なる伯爵夫人は、純潔なる白衣を絡いて、...
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Is there a good explanation for the forms 大きな, 小さな and 多くの?

Is there a good historical/etymological explanation why 大きい and 小さい can take the な ending in attributive position? Also, is there a good historic/etymological explanation why 多い in attributive use ...
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形容詞 that end in ~しい but were not シク活用 in 古文

I know that in general, if a 形容詞 in modern Japanese ends in ~しい, then it was originally a シク活用形容詞, with 終止形 ~し and 連體形 ~しき. I also know that in the Late Middle Japanese period, シク adjectives ...
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Differences between なし and あらず?

At some point in history, ない replaced *あらない as the negative of ある, at least in the Kantō dialect (Kansai seems to have あらへん; あらん is also apparently attested in some dialects). When did this happen? ...
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Older Jp had much fewer particles (助詞) ? — The modern “use ALL the particles” written style

. . . A perhaps pedantic comment: The idea that everything has a particle in theory, which is either "dropped" or not, is actually relatively modern. In earlier forms of Japanese, there were ...
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338 views

How is を used here?

この大作の完成を願えども余命とぼしきを如何せん。I had hoped to finish writing this novel, but I'm afraid I have little time left. 貧窮なるを如何せん。I am poor, so what can I do? In the sentences above is ヲ used as a conjunctive ...
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Is 選ばれし者 a grammatically correct translation of “The Chosen One”?

I have frequently seen 選ばれし者 used as a translation for the English phrase "The Chosen One". I know that し is the 連体形 of the auxiliary verb き which, quoting from デジタル大辞泉, is used when expressing things ...
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318 views

Is there a reason why the passive and the potential form are identical (at least for える/いる verbs)?

Is there a reason why the passive and the potential form in Japanese are identical (at least for える/いる verbs)? I mean, does one etymologically derive from the other? Or were they perhaps modelled on a ...
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What is the meaning of 幾里?

I took up a personal translation project--lyrics to a song from a game I played--recently, and one of the words is giving me trouble. The line out of the song is 我れ幾里の路を共に往かむ, and I can understand ...
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What does the kana 「し」 do in this phrase?

It comes from the video game title. 過{す}ぎ去{さ}りし時{とき}を求{もと}めて I looked up in online dictionary thinking that it should be a conjugated form of the verb 去る but it is not.
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Do 形容詞 have a 未然形 in Classical Japanese?

I was reading Eiríkr Útlendi's answer about -い vs. -き in 形容詞 and noticed that he identified -く as the 未然形 of 形容詞. When I studied classical Japanese, though, I was taught that 形容詞 lack a 未然形 (and also ...
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131 views

Is まはりて an archaic form of 廻って, and how is it broken down grammatically?

I came across a cover version of "Bad Apple", where the singer uses a more traditional style than the original song, including a translation of the (modern) lyrics into more archaic/poetic language. ...
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303 views

Does the たり in Modern Japanese come from the Classical たり?

For example, in the sentence 飲んだり食べたりした. Does this たり have anything to do with the -(i)tari ending in Classical Japanese that meant the present progressive (and later semantically shifted to past, and ...
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178 views

What is the meaning of らん in ゆくらん?

I saw it in this tanka that I'm trying to translate: 偽のある世にだにもふるさとの契りわすれず雁のゆくらん
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だ versus な in causal subordinate clauses

Why do causal subordinate clauses ending in -から take だ as a means to connect nouns and な adjectives (e.g. 日本人だから), whereas causal subordinate clauses ending in -ので take な (e.g. 日本人なので)? I read that だ ...
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220 views

How do I understand 「わが身世にふる ながめせし間に」

This might be a difficult question but let me give it a try here. I have trouble understanding this poem by 小野小町: 花の色は うつりにけりな いたづらに わが身世にふる ながめせし間に I understand that the words 「ふる」 and 「ながめ」 are ...
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846 views

Please help me understand this たる?

Please help me understand this たる! 焼きたる 在りたる
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226 views

Is the negative in ゆめ人に洩らし給えそ implicit?

ゆめ人に洩らし給えそ Never breathe a syllable of it to any one! (NEW斎藤和英大辞典) Is negative meaning here implied but not stated explicitly? ゆめ = 必ず, そ = ぞ as bound particle (it could be negative final particle そ, ...
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162 views

The origins of なんだ as in 飲まなんだ or せなんだ

Even here in Osaka I don't hear it very often among anyone even remotely young, but where does this come from originally? Does anyone have a reference on hand? If I myself had to guess from what I ...
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248 views

Hyakunin Isshu pronunciation; ちはやふる vs. ちはやぶる?

In the Hyakunin Isshu, the 17th poem (found here) has me stumped. In the manga/anime ちはやふる, the title is written and pronounced as ちはやふる, but on the card for the game the manga revolved around (also ...
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103 views

An unclear form in a song

In「命火眩暈」by 杏ノ助, there are the following lines. 頽るる松、 甲羅なき亀 御簾を上げれど けふも宵 The other text is perfectly imitating a Sengoku-period Late Middle Japanese with occasional classical. However, this ...