Sunday, February 3, 2013

Kiritsubo 1.4b

A very full word section today, with 6 entries.  First I feel like I have to defend Hagiwara; on the last word post there were some very harsh comments about the philological efforts of the Edo-period scholars (one commenter called them "junk etymologies" and another compared them to jokes).  The etymologies aren't that bad, though -- a decent number of them are accurate or at least one possibility for an unknown word.  Of course there are some missteps, though.

Also, I want to say hi to a Chinese person living in France who is providing the second-most hits to the blog (next to Matt).  Here's an interesting post where he(?) compares three Chinese translations of the first few sentences of "Kiritsubo". 我的中文不太好。欢迎、欢迎


Tama no ogushi (1796): This word occurs many times in the Tale. When you examine them all, it means to do unreasonable things with no thought put into it. The meaning here is the same; it means that even people not directly related to the circumstances are averting their eyes without any reason. The notes that say it means 無愛 or ajikinashi are wrong.

 ナニトナウ ムサト ナンノハリ合モナク

nani to nau (何となう), musa to, nan no hariai mo naku


In the Shinshaku it says "This is shortened from aigyou nasi and means 愛なき."  The "shortened" part is doubtful, but this should be seen as 愛なき.  "Doing something unreasonable with no thought put into it" is, in the end, not that different from "with no care/love".


This word is still of unknown etymology (愛なし is listed as a possible etymology in modern dictionaries), and the exact meaning of the word in this sentence is still not certain.


soba is the character 側. me is the word conjugated as me, mu, muru.  The word means to turn aside and not face directly at something, indicating a grudge.


Tama no ogushi (1796): The Genchu shui says This perhaps should mean that it is like the difficulty of looking at the bright sun." This is correct; generally people averting their eyes is referred to as mabayuki.


Shinshaku (1758): People's feelings are often compared to the five senses, for instance, umashi, karashi, nigashi, etc. In this case it is like niganigashiki; something that has no taste.

 フアンバイナ ムヤクナコトヂヤ ラチモナイ

fuanbai na (不安倍な), muyaku na koto ja (無役なことじゃ)、rachi mo nai (埒もない)

雅集 やくにもたたず、せんのないといふ心なり。真字伊勢物語「味気無(アヂキナク)」。契沖云、せんかたなし。史記伍子胥伝、無益を「アヂキナシ」とよめり。宣長云、俗言にいらざること、むやくのことといへる意なり。

Gagen shuran (1849):  This means "useless" or "nothing can be done." In the Ise monogatari manabon the characters 味気無 are read as ajikinau. Keichū says that in the Shi ji, in the biography of Wu Xizu, 無益 is read as ajikinashi. Norinaga says that in the vernacular it means irazaru koto or mueki na koto.


The Ise monogatari manabon is a version of the Ise monogatari written entirely in Chinese characters, perhaps in the Kamakura era (the cite here is in poem 90).  The practice of using Chinese works to gloss the Genji words is a curious one that dates back to the oldest commentaries; it survived into the 19th century for unclear reasons.  I believe this etymology for the word is completely wrong and that 味気 is ateji, but I'm not 100% certain.


Genchu shui (1698): In the Makura no sōshi there is a section called "hashitanaki things." One of the items is "When someone else is called, and you appear thinking you're the one being called. It's even worse when they give you something." There are other items; this should be consulted. Also in the Taketori Monogatari it says "The prince was uneasy(hashita) standing or sitting." This is the same meaning.


Genchu yoteki (1830): In the vernacular this means things like dochira tsukazu, or metta ni, or hiyonna.

 フツガフナ ツキモナイ 思ヒガケナイ ツキホガナイ フサウオウナ フツツカナ

futsugafu na (不都合な), tsuki mo nai, omohigakenai, tsukiho ga nai, fusauouna (不相応な), futsutsuka na (不束な).


I believe Keichu is correct about hashita and hashitanaki meaning the same thing -- the nashi is a suffix (not 無い) that is in other words like いときなし.


This word is 心延, so it is extending (延) your spirit (心). This is similar to kokorozashi, which is pointing (指し) your spirit (心), or kokorobase, which is running (馳せ) your spirit (心). 

 ココロムケ オモヒナシ

kokoromuke (心向け)、omohinashi (思ひなし).


  1. The newbie, aka minus273February 4, 2013 at 7:27 AM

    Sorry to disappoint you, but the comparison guy is not me (minus273), who is just trying to learn a little CJ with the easier-to-understand commentary CJ and muddle along with the real Genji language. It's someone (課長) who really knows their Classical Japanese.

    1. Ah OK, thanks. Well, if you have any questions about the CJ in the excerpts you can post them here too.

  2. Hey, I didn't mean the woe-to-man thing as a joke... I heard it as an example of a serious proposal, illustrating the difference between folk etymology and real linguistic science -- and the fact that, without the latter, any attempt at etymology is too susceptible to the former to be taken seriously. From the contemporary perspective it is a humorous example but the underlying principles (apart from the sexism) are really no better or worse than those that lead Kamo no Mabuchi to see "flavor" in "あじけなし". The basic problem is reliance on surfaces (spelling, kanji usage), and this of course is simply because they didn't have the tools to go deeper.

    1. OK, sorry if that came off as too harsh. I just like to give the kokugakusha more credit than they often get. :)

      But it's definitely true that the etymologies are the weakest part of the 語釈 section; the usage examples and discussion of how the meaning changed from the old sources to the Genji are both pretty good, though. Norinaga's emphasis on using examples from the same genre and time period was pretty insightful considering that up to then people would just grab examples from anywhere, whether they were from 300 years before Genji or 300 years after.

    2. Yeah, usage examples and discussion are usually pretty good (or at least interesting). Good point about Norinaga -- I suppose that since his historical perspective was of Japan starting out "pure" and being progressively diluted by Chinese culture, Buddhism, etc., it makes sense that he would be very conscious of what time period his examples were from.

      (I'm fuzzy on the details now but I remember in Shibun Yoryo he emphasizes that the Genji helps the reader understand the ways of old Japan, particularly mono no aware of course, and that it should definitely *not* be parsed in terms of contemporary [i.e. Edo] Japan. This surely applies to the surface linguistic level as well as the level of meaning. I don't remember what if anything he had to say about the numerous quotes, parallels etc. relating the Genji to Chinese literature, though.)

  3. And I meant "junkies"... No sé hablar inglés.