11 votes

How difficult is the 万葉集 to read?

As others have noted, there are multiple parts to the Man'yōshū. The commentary, prefaces, and various other bits of text were written in a version of Classical Chinese, known as [漢文]{kanbun}, and ...
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11 votes
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What does 花つ月 mean?

According to a dictionary, 花つ月 is an alternative name for March, the third month of the year in the traditional Japanese calendar. (I didn't know that.) So 緋色の花つ月 means March in Crimson or something ...
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  • 267k
10 votes
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What kind of Japanese "dialect" is this?

The origins of Buddhist sutra are compilicated, but they are generally based on the transliterated Sanskrit/Pali or their Chinese translations. See Lotus Satra on Wikipedia. Although they might have ...
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6 votes
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Is there a reason why the passive and the potential form are identical (at least for える/いる verbs)?

Etymologically, various usages of れる/られる derived from one base meaning, "without someone's will". In modern Japanese, れる/られる is still sometimes used in this sense (known as 自発【じはつ】 or "...
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  • 267k
6 votes

What kind of Japanese "dialect" is this?

Yes, this is not Japanese at all. It's not even kanbun in the sense of "Chinese text read as if it were stilted Japanese." It is medieval Buddhist Chinese read character-by-character as Chinese but ...
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  • 9,914
6 votes
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aru Kanji confusion

有る is for possession; 在る is for existence. Though there can be some overlap. And 或る (even though you didn't ask) is actually an adjective for "a particular/certain", like in ある日に.... So in this ...
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  • 42.4k
6 votes
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Old Japanese vowels in kana

Good question. The poster is referring to the reconstructed 8-vowel system for Old Japanese (上代特殊仮名遣) which is inferred from the presence of two ways of transcribing /e/ and two ways of transcribing /...
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  • 4,770
5 votes
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Historical use of さん

First, according to Wikipedia, this 宮さん is not Emperor but Prince Arisugawa. The most formal and polite way to address him is 有栖川親王殿下{ありすがわしんのうでんか} ("His Imperial Highness Prince Arisugawa"), or 殿下{...
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  • 267k
5 votes

aru Kanji confusion

Just a little bit of background on this: As you mentioned, it is generally written as ある these days. In the past, there was a clearer differentiation based on grammatical properties, i.e. that 有る was ...
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  • 11.2k
5 votes
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What is つ in 中つ国 and why is it equivalent to の?

つ is just an older version of the particle の. Its use here, assuming that you are referring to Tolkien's Middle-earth, is literary and adds an older and more mystical flavor in the same way that using ...
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  • 18k
4 votes

What does 花つ月 mean?

The Crimson "month of flowers". Or Crimson March.
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  • 41
4 votes

The difference between もう and まふ

I would say this is a problem of both "the old grammar/words" and "the old orthography". A spelling reform (such as the German orthography reform of 1996) and archaic word usage are two different ...
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4 votes
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Is there a historical explanation why verbs fall into two categories of pitch accent?

The distinction goes as far back as we have data. Already in Middle Japanese (MJ, Heian period) the verbs were divided into two classes, one with the stem melody LL…LH-, the other HH…HL-;¹ that is, ...
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4 votes

鵺 Chimera Bird in Making of Cyborg and Reincarnation

The Question In an earlier version of your post, you had asked: I've seen two different English translations and I'm wondering which one is more correct. Other users commented and linked through to ...
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4 votes
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我が道に 足りぬを探し たたかへど

Not a native speaker, so take this with a grain of salt. :) First, let's look at your bolded piece. Understanding 足りぬを探し I came across two possible interpretations of this phrase. The first is where ...
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3 votes
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だ versus な in causal subordinate clauses

This explanation is tautological but I just have to say it's because から follows a terminal form, which of the copula is だ while の is a kind of noun, which needs an attributive form to be modified, ...
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  • 16.2k
3 votes
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Is there a good explanation for the forms 大きな, 小さな and 多くの?

大きな is the 連体形 (attributive form) of an old na-adjective おおきなり, and only the attributive form is used in the present day. 小さな, おかしな are also the same thing. They are analyzed as pre-noun adjectivals. ...
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  • 23.8k
3 votes

What kind of Japanese "dialect" is this?

Many Buddhist prayers and chants aren't really understood by most Japanese people (except perhaps monks and scholars). I've attended Buddhist temples and ceremonies in Japan and Taiwan and they use ...
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  • 1,338
3 votes

Etymological Connection Between 帽子, 眸子 and 牟子

牟子(むし) is a conical hat of straw or reeds with a gauze veil hanging from the brim. The veil is the defining feature: in the story the priest says 「女は牟子を垂れて居りましたから、顔はわたしにはわかりません」 "The woman was wearing ...
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3 votes

Question about verbs in Old Japanese

The capitalized Old Japanese (上代日本語) certainly has two vowel-stem types of verbs that yield today's -eru/-iru verbs respectively. However, it's not accurate to say they end in -e/-i because the ...
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3 votes

Older Japanese had much fewer particles (助詞)? -- The modern "use ALL the particles" written style

When did we start wanting to put particles on everything ? In the context of "proper writing" I think the push for precision and predictability is a common feature that many written ...
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  • 7,221
3 votes

If it's okay to remove the punctuation in a modern text format of Kojiki (古事記)

I am mystified why this wasnot mentioned before, but the first challenge to read the Kojiki in the original is that the original is not any stage of Japanese at all. The book is made in Classical ...
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  • 2,124
3 votes

Why did です eventually overtake なり?

です did not overtake なり. だ did. なり is merely a basic connective, "A is B," without any specific implications for the formality level or politeness of speech. Etymologically, it is a fusion of に+あり "...
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  • 2,124
3 votes

Can "のたもうて" be the て−form of のたもう?

Yes, we can say it as "のたまって" too.
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3 votes
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What's the etymology of まほし?

The -(a)maposi optative auxiliary adjective is indeed connected with ほし "want," but the first part is different. It is derived from the simplification of -(a)maku [nö] posi, where: -(a)m- ...
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  • 2,124
2 votes

What is japanese?

I'd suggest reading the introduction of Tae Kim' Guide to Japanese.: http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar/introduction
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  • 43
2 votes
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What search term(s) should I use when looking for a pronunciation guide of ancient kanji?

I think 古事記 書き下し is the search term you're looking for. The 古事記 is written in Classical Chinese(漢文)so there wouldn't be any furigana for that. However, Classical Chinese can be re-written as a 書き下し文 ...
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  • 7,221
2 votes

The difference between もう and まふ

You are encountering here the difference between modern spelling and the spelling used prior to WWII. まふ is the old spelling for もう You can find other examples here. I cannot explain the meaning of ...
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  • 7,576
2 votes
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Are the province names of Japan translatable into English?

Most Chinese and Japanese place names are made of kanji, which is perhaps the most famous sets of logographic characters currently in use. Therefore most Japanese place names can be translated ...
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