Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Shunshoku Umegoyomi Vol. 1: A Fleeting Existence

Fig. 1: 今日ま
Fig. 2: おま
A quick post today, continuing our story of Yonehachi and Tanjirou's conversation from last time:

"Until today, I had been patient, but (fig. 1) [now] I know where you live as well (fig. 2), and so...," [Yonehachi said], looking around the neighborhood as tears spilled into her lap (fig. 3).

In fig. 1, we see the expression 「まじや」 (pronounced 「まじゃ」), which is just a dialectical contraction of 「までは」, as seen in modern Japanese.

Fig. 3: そして

In fig. 3, note how the 「ながら」 portion at the end is separated from the rest of the text; it is on a new line in the original text.

Fig. 4: 此様
"Seeing [you] in this fleeting state [of existence], so weak and fragile (fig. 4), why do [I wonder] if you will even be in this house tomorrow?" (fig. 5)

In fig. 4, we see the same kanji pattern for 「こんな」 as seen in fig. 3 of this post.

I had difficulty parsing 「形丸」, as it doesn't show up in any of the dictionaries I've checked. The furigana 「なり」 can apply to just 「形」, but since the 「り」 is to the right of 「丸」, I assumed that this was an irregular reading, where 「なり」 applied to both kanji. This fits with the following kana「に」, which combines with 「なり」 to create the particle 「なりに」.

Edit: with the help of an anonymous commenter and Matt, I was able to clear this up. First of all, the kanji after 「形」 is actually 「身」. I'm not sure how I could have figured that out a priori, but it looks quite similar to some examples in online databases, such as this one. Also, there is an occurrence of this same kanji in another few lines, where it is clearly labeled as having the reading 「み」.

Fig. 5: どふ
The meaning of the word is the same as that of 「なり」: "state". One reason for using kanji was to more clearly delineate word beginnings/endings, so the reader wouldn't get lost in a sea of kana. But also, 「形身」, which has no meaning of its own (even in premodern Japanese), was possibly a kakikae of 「肩身」 (or perhaps just an orthographic error), which has the dual meanings of "body" and "image you present to society/strangers". Thus, there are three different meanings to this word, all of which contribute to the overall interpretation of the sentence, a literary technique that is reminiscent in some ways of the rhetorical device this blog is named after.

Finally, 「ゐさつしやる」 is read as 「いさっしゃる」, as explained for fig. 4 of this post.


  1. Believe that's 形身 not 形丸.

    1. How would you parse that? Would 「形身」 have the same meaning as 「身形」? Or would you separate the two kanji, so that it's 「はかない形(かたち) 身(み)になって」

    2. I'm not anonymous, but the furigana are pretty clearly なり for the two-char combo. So it's just the noun なり, "state", "way", etc., spelt with some gikun that didn't make it into contemporary standard Japanese, which is pretty common in Edo literature. (You've already encountered it a few times, e.g. 歩行った).

      Re the meaning, given the context I think you're pretty safe here parsing the 形身 "(physical) state", e.g. "Seeing you so weak and fragile" or whatever. It's possible that 形身 is itself ateji -- there is a modern word, 肩身, that means "(physical, human) body", and I think it dates back to at least Edo times. So the layers go down quite deep:

      1. The word なり, which means "state"
      2. Spelt 形身
      3. Which is actually ateji for a word etymologically spelt 肩身, meaning "body"

      So the overall effect is to emphasize that this instance of the word なり refers to T's physical state. I think that there is also a mechanistic explanation at play: using kanji like this emphasizes that なり is meant to be a noun with that meaning. If it were written in kanji, it could temporarily be confused with one of the many other uses of the two-character combination なり in Japanese. Kanji perform this function in modern written Japanese too, helping to indicate word boundaries not unlike the use of spaces in European languages.

    3. Er, "if it were written in KANA, it could temporarily..."

      That is, for an Edo reader, A. would simply be easier/faster to parse than B.:

      A. 此様なはかない形身になつてゐさつしやるのを見て
      B. 此様なはかないなりになつてゐさつしやるのを見て

      The same applies to a contemporary reader in general, although this is a special case because of the nonstandard (in contemporary usage) kanji.

    4. "I'm not anonymous, but the furigana are pretty clearly なり for the two-char combo."

      Woops, totally forgot about the furigana. Yeah, the reading is obviously 「なり」 (though I wasn't sure before if it applied to both kanji).

      "It's possible that 形身 is itself ateji -- there is a modern word, 肩身, that means "(physical, human) body", and I think it dates back to at least Edo times."

      You lost me here. From what I've seen, ateji only refers to the assignment of kanji to a word that previously had none. This seems to be more of a substitution of one kanji for another.

      The most similar example to this situation that I've run into the past is kakikae, although in that case kanji were replaced in order to reduce the use of uncommon ones.

  2. Yeah, I guess "ateji" isn't the right word. Probably kakikae is closest, although if I had to guess I'd say it was closer to a spelling error than an intentional thing (pace the question of how much sense the concept of a "spelling error" makes in Edo Japanese).