How the Classical Japanese Portal ("CJP") web site works


Links from the home page:


  1.  This website's home page contains four main links: 

    • Why Classical Japanese? Why you might enjoy -- and benefit from -- learning classical Japanese. 

    • Selections.  Basic information about the work that is the source of this site's text passages; each of these opens onto the cover page for that "book" (as we'll call them).  Each book's cover's red ribbon offers a summary characterization of the work. 

    •  The Learning Tools link brought you to this page--and takes you (below) to a list of terms and concepts used in explaining the language of the Taketori text samples in this site. It's searchable with your web browser's search function. [[On the facing, left-hand page the same information is available as downloadable pdf files.]] 

    • Table of Contents Opens onto links to four passages from text and instructional material

  2.  The links in the Table of Contents provide direct access to each of this web site's arrow tabs on the edges of the open-book display are for flipping forward or back. 

  3.  Below the large open-book display, laid out left-to-right, are seven Taketori passages, as well as the main grammatical topics that come up in each of the 17 webpages. 

  4.  The site's 17 pages of Japanese text can be accessed in Word Mode, Phrase Mode, and Passage Mode. Select your mode by clicking on the mode button, which is above the left side of each open-book web page. The scope of the commentary and audio on the lefthand page will differ with the mode you've selected. 

  5. Word Mode provides access to instructional material about Dictionary link opens onto a short dictionary entry, and the Grammar link opens onto selected points about the word's composition, word class, or use, etc. Beneath the Grammar link are three buttons for jumping to the Hear button, which plays audio of the word's classical (not necessarily historical) pronunciation. When a new link is clicked, the commentary from the previously selected link is replaced with the new commentary. 

  6. Phrase Mode accesses instructional material about Breakdowns of each phrase's components, commentary on its 

  7. Passage Mode is for reading and/or listening to an entire passage. The Japanese text's facing page presents an English translation of the passage, and beneath the translated text, the audio for each passage is controlled with the play/pause button and 



Key to Word and Phrase notes


These notes are meant as a starter toolkit, for your initial work with the Japanese texts we'll be studying. They should help serve as a bridge to studying the texts on your own, with modern translations, dictionaries, and other reference works of your choosing.


The romanized transcription used here mimics kana spelling of the time, so in a variety of syllables the accepted classical pronunciation cannot be had by simply reading with today's sound values. For both the old kana spelling (旧仮名遣い 


The pronunciations that you'll learn to associate with these spellings will be those of "classical Japanese", i.e. the ways they're conventionally pronounced as 古文 


 A portion of each inflected form (活用形 arI or auxiliary 


When the particular inflected form of a verb, adjective or copula is irrelevant to the point being made, this capitalization will be dispensed with, so that, for example, an all-lower-case ari "be" refers simply to that verb, keri simply to that auxiliary. 


Asterisks refer to non-attested but hypothesized or reconstructed forms. "X < Y" means "X derives from Y," i.e. Y in some way formed the basis for the newer item X.


Also: cJ = "classical Japanese", mJ ="modern Japanese", OJ = "Old Japanese" (Nara Period), EMJ "Early Middle Japanese" (Heian Period). Other abbreviations will be introduced as we go along. For further information on abbreviations and terms/concepts, please keep reading.



Abbreviations for terms/concepts more specific to Japanese


 The concepts, categories, and terms below are used in the instructional materials presented in the site's Word and Phrase modes for studying the Taketori text passages. An initial capital letter in a term indicates that the word is being used in the specific sense described here, which may differ from its "everyday" meaning. 



 | A  |  Adjective (形容詞
 | AN  |  Adjectival Noun. Refers to either:  the initial, non-copula portion of 形容動詞 keiyoodoosi "descriptive verbs", such as the siduka of 静かなり daudau of 堂々たり  nouns such as aka "red", ao "blue(green)", haya "quick(ly)", kuro "black", etc. (which form the roots of the corresponding 形容詞 keiyoosi "[inflecting] adjectives").
| Aux  |  Auxiliary (助動詞 zyodoosi "auxiliary verb")
| Cont  |  Continuative (= perfect, progressive, or resultative) Aux tari, (a) ri
| Cop  | Copula
| DI  |  Doubted Identity, expressed by focus (kakari) particle ka
| EF  |  Established Fact, or evidential past and perfect expressed with Aux ki
| EEF  |  Externally Established Fact, or evidential present, past, or perfect expressed with Aux keri
| EndoPf  |  Endoactive Perfective Aux intransitive perfective
| ExoPf  |  Exoactive Perfective Aux transitive perfective
| IdF  |  Identifying Focus, expressed by focus (kakari) particle zo
| IF  |  Inclusive Focus, expressed by focus (kakari) particle mo
| Loc  | Locative, i.e. indicating location
| N  | Nominal, Noun
| P  | Predicator, i.e. an A, V, or N+Cop (plus any optional Auxiliaries)
| Pt  | Particle
| QP  |  Quantifying Particle, e.g. ha (i.e. nomi "only", etc.
| RF  |  Restrictive Focus, expressed by focus (kakari) particle ha
| V  | Verb
| Vi  | Verb, intransitive, i.e. intransitive verb
| Vst  |  Verb, stative (= 
| Vt  | Verb, transitive


Abbreviations (romanized) for Japanese grammatical terms


(Japanese abbreviations in parentheses)


Verb ("V") classes



 | 1D  | itidan (一段) "monograde"
| K2  | kami nidan (上二段) "upper biggrade"
| S2  | simo nidan (下二段) "lower bigrade"
| 4D  | yodan (四段) "quadrigrade"
| KH  | ka-hen (カ変) = ka-gyoo henkaku カ行変格 "ka-column irregular"
| NH  | na-hen (ナ変) = na-gyoo henkaku ナ行変格
| RH  | ra-hen (ラ変) = ra-gyoo henkaku ラ行変格
| SH  | sa-hen (サ変) = sa-gyoo henkaku サ行変格 

Adjective ("A") classes



| ku  |  (ク) = ku-katuyoo ク活用
| siku  |  (シク) = siku-katuyoo シク活用 


Abbreviations (Japanese) for Japanese part-of-speech terms


 (Terms commonly used in 古語辞典 kogo ziten "dictionaries of early Japanese") 


| 名  |  名詞 meisi "noun"
| 動  |  動詞 doosi "verb"
| 自動  |  自動詞 zidoosi "intransitive verb"
| 他動  |  他動詞 tadoosi "transitive verb"
| 形  |  形容詞 keiyoosi "adjective"
| 形動  |  形容動詞 keiyoodoosi "adjectival verb"
| 助動  |  助動詞 zyodoosi "auxiliary verb"
| 補助動  |  補助動詞 hozyodoosi "supplementary auxiliary verb"
| 接尾  |  接尾語 setubigo "suffix"
| 助  |  助詞 zyosi "particle"
| 接助  |  接続助詞 setuzoku zyosi "conjunctive particle" 


Abbreviations for texts (selected literary works) in Japanese



 | Gm  | Genji monogatari "The Tale of Genji"
| Im  | Ise monogatari "Tales of Ise"
| Kks  | Kokin waka shū/Kokin shū "Collection of poetry old and new"
| Km  | Konjaku monogatari shū "Collection of tales of things now past"
| Kn  | Kagero nikki "The Gossamer Diary"
| Mys  | Man'yōshū "Collection of 10,000 leaves"
| Om  | Ochikubo monogatari "The Tale of Lady Ochikubo"
| Tm  | Taketori monogatari "Tale of the Bamboo Cutter"
| Tn  | Tosa nikki "Tosa Diary" 


Basic Terms and Concepts: see notes in the program for more on each.



 | Complementizer  |  A marker of information that complements, or supplements, what the governing verb expresses. Most commonly refers to particle
 | Compound  |  a word with more than one part
 | compound N(oun)  | a N typically derived from more than one source word, the second of which is a N.
 | compound V(erb)  | a V typically derived from more than one source word, the second of which is a V.
 | Deictic time words  |  Words that refer to a time in a way that is dependent on, or relative to, the speaker's here-and-now, e.g. ima "now", kehu "today", etc.
| Deixis  | Referring ("pointing") to some entity that the speaker regards as present in the immediate communicative context, or as accessible through/from it.
| Derivation, derived from  |  Created from. For example, "The auxiliary keri is derived from ki + ni was derived from the short RY of the copula RY "being". The formulas "X < Y" and "Y > X" are often read as "X is/was derived from Y."
| Governing  |  X governs Y if it stands in a higher or inclusive ("superordinate") structural relation to Y, i.e. X applies to Y, or X applies over Y. In Japanese, auxiliaries govern the verbs (and other auxiliaries) that they follow; particles govern the phrases they attach to.
| Nominal  | A noun, a noun phrase (multiword), or a nominalized clause.
| Nominalization  | Treating a structure that does not normally function as a nominal (e.g. a verb-predicated clause) as a nominal.
| Noun  | Also called "lexical noun," a single, non-inflecting word that is routinely used in roles such as subject, object, etc., and in reference to time-stable entities such as people, objects, locations, etc.
| Particle  |  A word that invariably occurs following the word it applies to. Particles typically relate what they mark to some other element higher up in the structure that they occupy a place in, e.g., in 都に帰る miyako ni kaheru "returns to the capital", Loc particle ni relates miyako "capital" to kaheru "returns", as the goal in that act of movement.
|  Case particle
(格助詞)  |  These mediate ideational relations within a phrase, clause or sentence by marking something as part of the "who, what, where," etc. referred to, such as possessor (genitive
| Focus particles  | These particles indicate a perspective to be taken. There are two types, one more concerned with identifying, the other, with quantifying.
| Identity-focused focus particles  |  Identity-relevant focus particles are strongly identifying (ka, weakly so (ya, kakari zyosi for their use in marking the focused component (the kakari-musubi construction. Ka and zo functioned in quasi-copular ways, asserting an identification ( Kore zo. "It's this one."), seeking one ( idure ka "which one is it", or with tare zo "who is it?").
| Quantificational focus particles  |  RF nomi "only", sahe "even", etc. Basically concerned with relations of "how much" or "how many", vis-à-vis the following predicator phrase. Unlike the identifying focus particles, none of these required the following predicator phrase to be marked with RT or IZ inflection as presupposed.
| Predicate  |  Represents a situation (= act, event, condition) with its participants (agent, undergoer, etc.) and other details (means, manner, etc.). Note that this covers considerably more than the term predicate does in Jorden and Noda's
| Predicator  |  A 用言
| Suffix  |  A meaningful dependent element (not a word in its own right) that is attached at the end of another word, creating a new meaning and/or function. Examples: conditional -tutu (later -sa and -garu in /A STEM



Tense, Modality, Evidentiality


  1. Placing situations in time, relative to a temporal "ground zero"

  2.  Most typically, tense refers to placing a situation in time, relative to the speaker's here-and-now -- before it, contemporaneous with it, or later than it. Placing a situation in time relative to the baseline, or anchor-point of here-and-now, makes tense a type of deictic ("pointing") reference. For example, I went to Cleveland. places this event at a time before the time of saying so, just as I'm going to Cincinnati tomorrow. places the going at a time later than the time when one says it. For our purposes, tense is the expression in a predicator complex (verb + auxiliaries) of from one's anchor point of here and now. That said, tense isn't the only way that temporal deixis is expressed; it's also commonly done with nouns such as ima "now", kinohu "yesterday", mukasi "the past", many of which were and are used adverbially. 

  3.  While the deictic anchor point is usually the speaker's here-and-now, on occasion it may be another point in time, as in the next example. Subscripted "-1" refers to a time before a presupposed "0" of now (= the time of telling someone this): 

    •  When June came-1, I had quit -1 from -1 my job and was -1 about to move future relative to -1 to Brussels. 

  4.  On hearing this statement, we note that both the coming of June and the speaker's being about to move to Brussels are situations in the past, relative to now, when the sentence is spoken. The anchor, or reference point, from which these events are past is had quit indicates that quitting occurred in the past relative to the past already established as that June, and about to move indicates that moving to Brussels was, relative to that June, in the future. 

  5.  What makes both the simple past of June came and the past-in-past of had quit deictic is that each is past relative to an assumed anchor point. For the predicate 

  6. We'll see similar differences in the indexing of time in some of the narrative passages we'll be reading in earlier Japanese.

  7. Different tense systems

  8. Languages that differ in significant ways (such as Japanese and English) often have different "tense systems", i.e. they regularly recognize different times and/or indicate them in different ways. The tenses their speakers use may distinguish between only past and non-past (non-past indicating present or future with a single marker) instead of the "present, past and future" that English speakers assume. Or, there may be a variety of pasts, some more distant than others, and/or futures that are more certain and less certain.

  9.  Markers of the past may also include hints about how the speaker knows that the situation in question took place, i.e. what kind of evidence she has to claim that it did. The system of tense distinctions available to speakers of a language constitutes a kind of evolved ecosystem, in that each tense marker in a system means what it does in relation to, or in contrast with, the others. When one way of marking tense dies out or is born, functional load may shift, such that the tense values of one or more of the other markers may change as a consequence. 

  10. Modality: Epistemic modality (speaker's beliefs about predicate content)

  11.  Tense is not the only way to indicate the distance of an event from the moment of speaking. In many languages stance -- toward the situation expressed in the predicate, indicate how near or far-off a situation is in terms of our knowledge of it. For example, is it presently uncertain because it hasn't happened yet? Or is it certain although distant, because it's on the known historical record? Or is it certain because it's happening here and now, in front of us? Or is it here and now but epistemic (knowledge-gauging) can and could below are used epistemically: 

    1.  She must be here. I saw her two minutes ago in the hall. 
    2.  It may be difficult, who knows. We'll find out soon enough. 
    3.  We should get there by ten, so long as traffic is moving. 
    4.  It can't be that he's here already-they just left an hour ago. 
    5.  It might (or 
  12.  Consider equivalent epistemic modal expressions in today's Japanese, such as: 

    1. 来ているにちがいない。
    2. むずかしいかもしれない。
    3. 十時までに着くはずだ。
    4. もう着いているはずなんかない。
    5. ジョンだったかもしれない。
  13.  In classical Japanese, those auxiliaries labeled 推量 suiryoo "estimating, conjectural", are used as epistemic modals, e.g. む, じ, らむ, らし, べし and めり, among others. 

  14. Deontic modality (obligation, necessity of performing predicate content)

  15.  Another kind of modality, or attitude toward the situation expressed with a predicate, is necessity of a situation (act, event, state), or someone's obligation to perform it. In addition to their epistemic uses, the same English modals 

    1.  He must appear in court next week. (necessity, obligation) 
    2.  You' ll do as you're told! (quasi-imperative) 
    3.  You may (or 
    4.  We really should send a thank-you note. (obligation) 
    5.  You cannot show up in that outfit. If you do, you're done. (prohibiting) 
    6.  You could let it pass, you know. (No need to do otherwise.) 
  16. Modern Japanese analogues employ expressions such as:

    1. 出なければいけない。
    2. いうとおりにするの!
    3. 帰ってもよい。
    4. 送るべき
    5. 着ていっちゃだめ。
    6. 無視してもいいじゃない?
  17. Modality and Tense

  18. In their indexing of different epistemic stances, or kinds of knowing, modals can routinely suggest a kind of temporal deixis, particularly the future, as is clear in examples such as:


 |  I' ll go.  That could backfire.  It should start soon.  | 僕が行こう。 思わぬ結果になっちゃうかも。 間もなく始まるだろうと思う。

  1.  In today's Japanese, modals -(y)oo, daroo and desyoo are, of course, regularly used in reference to future situations. In classical Japanese, the 推量 suiryoo modals (む, じ, らむ, らし, べし, etc.) were also regularly used of future situations, as we will see. Since epistemic modals indicate something about a situation's likelihood (or unlikelihood), they stop short of indicating a situation as factual. Future situations are, of course, not-yet-factual, so it is no surprise that some modals have come to be regularly used in marking future situations as future, such as English 

  2. Evidentiality and Tense

  3.  Some devices that convey the speaker's belief about the contents of a predicate indicate the kind of evidence that a belief is based on, such as first-hand witness, hearsay, community belief, or after-the-fact deduction, among others, such as hearsay /V- u soo (da)/ in today's Japanese, or /V SS

  4.  Tense is not realized in cJ in an arrangement of "one form each for past, present, and future," marked on every sentence's main predicate. It was indicated, at certain points, by means of auxiliaries and time adverbs (ima, kinofu "yesterday", etc.). At other points in a text, however, a predicate might have none of these to place it in time. 

  5.  The auxiliaries involved in expressing tense and the temporal nature of a situation (such as continuity or completion) were numerous-ki, nu and 

  6.  Furthermore, a speaker's or writer's deictic reference to situations relied not only on time adverbs and auxiliaries, but also on conventions of genre, or precedent, as well as the immediate communicative context, i.e. what a speaker can count on her audience to know. We're going to try to get a fix on this complex system of options and how speakers made their choices from it, on the way to a better appreciation for point of view in the relating of stories. 



 One last note: ari "be" as auxiliary 


 There is strong evidence that ari was once applied to the VRYof verbs as an auxiliary of aspect, to express temporal qualities such as a resultant state (cf. modern kaette iru "is (gone) home" or katte aru "is/has been bought"), a perfect (cf. today's mite iru "have seen [it]"), or an ongoing action (today's progressive ima mite iru "am watching [it] now"). This /VRY+ mati RY ari become hanasi ari become 


 In this context, the final /i/ of the main verb's RY (e.g. 4D yomi RY "reading", SH si RY "doing") blended with yomI RY "reading" + ari derived yomeri "(s/he) is reading; (s/he) has read; (it) is/has been read", and sI RY "doing" + ari derived seri "(s/he) is doing; (s/he) has done; (it) is/has been done", etc. From the time of Japan's earliest texts, only this blended form with /e/ (i.e. yome and se portions as forms of the respective verbs (the IZ or MR), and the final ri as the auxiliary. This analysis is actually preferred in older or more traditional grammars and dictionaries. Even updated works that explain that this ri began as ari "be" commonly identify and list the auxiliary as 


Ari also figured in the derivation of other inflected forms (e.g. takakari < tari < keri