A Brief Introduction to Classical Japanese
One of the greatest problems in translating or understanding CJ faced by those familiar with MJ is the proliferation of false friends with whom they share kanji or other roots. Some of the more common and more troublesome examples are:
Classical Japanese Word Classical Japanese Meaning Modern Japanese Meaning tameshi example test/attempt sunawachi soon, immediately in other words okashi interesting, beautiful funny utsukushi beloved, attractive beautiful mezamashi amazing, interesting waking-up ashita morning tomorrow mezamashi mezamashi mezamashi mutsukashi unpleasant, eerie difficult okonau to do; to hold Buddhist services to occur nonoshiru to shout, to call out to revile, to abuse ari to be (people & things) to be (things only)
Another problem is the proliferation of totally different terms and words for common ones long-since internalized from years of working with Modern Japanese. Some of the more frequent ones are:
Modern Japanese Word Classical Japanese Word Meaning a, ano ka, kano that (over there) sore sa that aruku ariku to walk muzukashii katashi difficult tegami fumi letter (correspondence)
Other frequent, useful words either do not exist in Modern Japanese, or are totally unlike any related concept in Modern Japanese, although the same kanji may be used (with a different reading) for the same concept. Some examples:
Classical Japanese Word Meaning yamugotonashi exalted; unable to be ignored ito very ikade in what manner; however (rhetorical, with Q) saranari of course; it goes without saying atenari exalted; first rate imiji great; impressive kokoroushi difficult; unappreciated; unpleasant ashi evil; bad; wrong itsuku to revere; to worship
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