Web search penance

The interests of this blog are quite specialized, & furthermore I’m erratic with posting. To avoid the feeling of writing in a vacuum, I sometimes like to peruse the list of search queries that brought people here; it always warms my heart to find that some lone soul was questing for “clouds word japanese” or “writing with upward slant” or “鹳 stork” and found something about that exact topic.

However, there are the times when search engines will suggest your site to a query that it can’t, in fact, satisfy. Carl Pyrdum’s super cool blog, Got Medieval, introduced the concept of “Google penance”: the spiritual exercise of completing the information that people came looking for – even though, alas!, it’s already too late. I loved the idea and decided to try my hand at it. So let’s do “penance”!! pleasantly.

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Frellesvig on Classical Japanese past suffixes

The other day Matt posted on the Classical particles traditionally described as “past” (though many seem to be about aspect rather than time): namely ki, keri, nu, tsu, tari, ri. I commented on some unusual points of Fujii Sadakazu’s analysis, which I’m more than a little skeptical about. Then it struck me that I should take a closer look at what a linguist has to say; so I read more carefully the relevant sections of Frellesvig’s A History of the Japanese Language, and summarized them below. For contrastive illustration, I’ve used my photocopy of a grammar table from some handbook or another as a typical representative of traditional (school) grammar.

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