Bungo Nyûmon
A Brief Introduction to Classical Japanese

Useful Particles

  Dani and sura are virtually identical and mean “even” (e.g., “Na wo dani shirazu,” = “They don’t know even his name”). Dani can also be used with expressions like “at least” in terms of imperative or hope.

  Ga, in addition to subject-marking and conjuctive functions, frequently serves in a genitive funtion like the MJ “no.”

  Koso is an emphatic that strengthens the word preceeding it. When it appears, the final verb or adjective doesn’t take the shûshikei; rather, it takes the izenkei. This is called kakari musubi, and serves to strengthen the emphatic nature of the sentence (e.g., “kimi koso ikubeki”= “You, my lord, especially must go”). There are several other uses and functions, but this is the primary and most important.

  Mo koso (and its variant mozo) is a useful term, carrying the value of “I’m afraid that —.” The rule of kakari musubi applies.

  Namu (and its variant “nan”) is an emphatic functioning like koso. It follows the rentaikei and nouns.

  Ni has many funtions like theMJ ni, but one must note its common use following rentaikei which may mean “when/upon —” or “because —” or “although —” or even “and furthermore, —."

  Nite is the most common CJ form for the MJ particle ni expressing location or means.

  Wo ba is an emphatic object marker. The difference between “Na wo Yoshi to môsu” and “Na wo ba Yoshi to môsu” is like the difference in English between “His name is Yoshi” and “And as for his name, that’s Yoshi."

  Tote (a contraction of “to itte”) indicates the substantive preceding it is the name of something. After an adjective, verb, or quotation, it means the preceding clause is the reason for the following one, or that the preceding is the objective of what follows.

  Tsutsu is attached to the ren’yôkei and implies a continuous or repeated action of the verb. If the actions are linked, it represents a simultaneous action (i.e., the action of the preceding verb is being continued through the following action).

  Wa, the ever-present subject marker in MJ, appears far less frequently to mark the subject in CJ.

  Ya has multiple functions. Its most common is interrogative; while ka may express doubt, ya is a clear question. Ya precedes question words, while ka follows them until the Kamakura period, when ya starts to follow the words. (Ya is also an emotive exclamation similar to the English “ah!")

This page was last updated on 3/22/04.

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