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Is there anything special about single vowel words?

Does this class of words have a name? I don't think so. Do words like "banana" and "indivisibility" have a special name in English? Are these words more poetic in a way? As ...
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7 votes
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Mora count for 思ふ in Classical Japanese?

I suspect this might be an example of poetic license or even contraction. Note that all of the 思ふ instances above follow on another mora from the お行, leaving open the possibility that をしと思{おも}ふ, for ...
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7 votes
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Do the Japanese read Classical Chinese poems in Japanese or in on-readings?

There is always trade-off, as you said. Thus naturally we have both approaches, depending on what policy and objective you have. Your #1 is called 訓読 ("interpretative reading") in Japanese, and ...
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6 votes

What is the function of 「や」 in this sentence?

The や indicates 詠嘆・感動 (exclamation/admiration). It's categorized as a 間投助詞 (interjectory particle) in デジタル大辞泉: や 四 間助 3 詠嘆・感動の意を表す。 「いで、あな幼なや」〈源・若紫〉 「夏草やつはものどもが夢の跡/芭蕉」〈奥の細道〉 And 明鏡国語辞典 categorizes ...
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5 votes
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Couple of classical Japanese questions

This article seems to show what the original poem is like. われにな問ひそ今の世と The original text goes like this. The な V そ sandwich (V takes 連用形 except for す and 来 become 未然形, せ and こ) is a common ...
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5 votes
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Why does this haiku have a 5-6-5 pattern?

Some haiku do not strictly follow the 5-7-5 pattern. Irregular haiku with one more or less morae than usual are called 字余り or 字足らず, respectively. Some haiku even ignore the 5-7-5 rule completely (See ...
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5 votes
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Is the layout of this text supposed to resemble a style of poem?

Yes, this 4-4-5 (or 4-4-7) rhythm has a nice ring (語呂がいい) to the ears of Japanese. Nicopedia even maintains a list of words which happen to have such 4-4-5 beats. Kitahara Hakushu's あめんぼの歌 is one of ...
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5 votes
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事に感ず and Shigin vocabulary

Background The first thing to be aware of is that this poem was composed in Chinese by the poet 于 濆 (Yú Fén) in roughly 874. (Brief Chinese Wikipedia article about the poet here.) As such, the ...
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5 votes

What is the function of 「や」 in this sentence?

This や is a literary particle used to add emotion or exclamation. It's common in in haiku and waka. It works like O as in "O the ancient pond", or ... as in "The ancient pond...". ...
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Trouble understanding small bits of poetry in a Japanese novel

Those tanka are all overly "artistic", almost a showcase of unexpected words or combinations that make each poem hard to follow in meaning. (Each poem is divided in lines for easier ...
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5 votes
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What is the difference in nuance between 思ったら and 思えたら?

You are correct that 思はば in classical Japanese is basically a plain conditional ("if I think"). However, in this context, it has a mood of counterfactual assumption ("if I were to think....
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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

Would a phrase 人の跡を求める be understood without a reference to Basho?

Follow might be a slightly misleading verb here, because it is too narrow, and can sometimes have a negative connotation of passivity. There's a difference between seeking my mother's advice and ...
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3 votes

Mora count for 思ふ in Classical Japanese?

The reason why such a pattern appears is, as currently understood, that Japanese was not a mora-timed language yet at the time 古今和歌集 was compiled. Until around the 16th century, meters were counted ...
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3 votes
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Why is 「てふ」 pronounced 「ちょう」?

The best answer that I could find was this answer on Yahoo.jp 知恵袋, which goes: 「てふ」→(ハ行転呼)→「てう」 「てう」→(拗長音化)→「チョー(表記は「ちょう」)」 頭語以外の「はひふへほ」を原則「わいうえお」にする というのは「ハ行転呼」ですが、 これが起こった上で、さらに発音が変化して 「...
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3 votes
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Is a sentence containing two similar kanji any known figure of speech

I think these are basically coincidences, although they may not be total coincidences because related words tend to share the same radical anyway (愛 and 恋 both have 心, for example). Normally, Japanese ...
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2 votes
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Trouble parsing lyrics under lack of particles

As far as parsing goes, my brain is intuitively seeing three "sentences" in this verse. 唐突に始まるお前の昔話(を)聞きながら、アルペジオ。 【{(冴えないノンフィクションの結末)を握っている→}お前の手】は、冷たいから嫌だ。 {(やさぐれ吐く息)に混じる声}が、歌い出す。 Note: Some verb ...
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2 votes

Couple of classical Japanese questions

I offer my translation, made thanks to the community. Note: the names mentioned by the poet Nagai -- Dangiku, Ochi, Ichiyo, Koyo, Ryokuu, Encho, Shicho, Ryuson and Ogai Gyoshi -- were all contemporary ...
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Does there exist a poem that uses direction to change its meaning?

One example of a block of text which is fully understandable both vertically and horizontally, is from this comedy. (And I'm afraid I know nothing more complex or sophisticated than this.) 極秘情報 (Top ...
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2 votes
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What are the basic physical differences between japanese poetry and prose?

Rhyme hasn't had much presence through the history of Japanese poetry, so you can say that Japanese poetry is virtually built on blank verses. The underlying meter of traditional Japanese poetry ...
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2 votes

What are the basic physical differences between japanese poetry and prose?

The 5-7-5 pattern is musically perceived as 5 quavers, 3 eighth rests, 7 quavers, one eighth rest and 5 quavers, making the 4/4 rhythm. example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lps7EaIPEAA
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How do you indicate line breaks in a poem when it is written without actual line breaks?

Japanese doesn't traditionally use spaces, so a space will indicate a line break. For example, 八雲立つ 出雲八重垣 妻籠みに 八重垣作る その八重垣を Which, if choose to write it in rōmaji, is Yakumo tatsu / Izumo yaegaki /...
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2 votes

What is the best word choice for "cycle"?

So I'm assuming you're trying to express the beautiful redness of 紅葉. In general, 巡り itself is a nice word that is suitable for poetry, but it's strongly associated with "cycling" (i.e. "red, blue, ...
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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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1 vote

How to write and sing Shigin (Japanese way of chanting poem) properly?

It's usually written in classical Japanese or kanbun kundoku. But be aware that Yamato-kotoba is not the same as classical Japanese. Typical 詩吟 pieces have many Sino-Japanese words. Mixing 詩吟 and ...
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1 vote

空睨んでも - how can I tell when sora is being used for something other than the sky

I think that 空 means "sky" here and that the sentence means: even if I look up the sky in the scent of the night
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