Classical Interjections

第020課: Interjections

     In Classical Japanese there are a lot of interjections that are no longer used today. However, they are by no means difficult words to remember. You can even find some that are still used today. “Aa!”, for example, is pretty universal.

Curriculum Note: This lesson will not cover interjectory particles. They will be discussed later when we look at the wide range of final particles in Classical Japanese.

Classical Japanese Interjections

     In these example sentences, notice how the interjections are used in the sentence. The interjections will be pointed out in bold.

1. いな、さもあらず。
    No, that’s not the way.
From the 竹取物語.

Word Note: いな can still be used as an interjection today; however, it is usually accompanied with slightly older speech patterns such as the auxiliary verbs ~ぬ and ~まい. 

2. のうのうわれをも舟に乗せて賜はり給へ。
    Hey you there, please allow me to board the boat as well.
From the Noh Play 隅田川. 

Word Note: のうのう is onomatopoeic and is still seen as a 擬声語 meaning “carelessly”. It is used in this context to get the attention of the boat, perhaps being careless for not seeing him wanting to get on board?

Kanji Note: 舟 denotes a smaller vessel. 

3. あな、うらやまし。
    My! How enviable.
From the 徒然草.

Word Note: あな is still used as an interjection in some parts of Japan.

4. しかしか、さはべりことなり。
    Yes, yes, that is quite so.
From the 大鏡.

Word Note: しかしか is the modern equivalent of そうそう. 

5. 無期むきののちに「えい」といらへたりければ
    Since he responded “yes” after an indefinitely long time
From the 宇治拾遺物語.

Word Note: えい can still be used in this fashion. However, it is normally spelled as ええ because えい is used as an interjection when you’re doing something with a lot of resolution. 

6. あないみじのおもとたちや。
    Ah! What wonderful women. 
From the 枕草子.

7. これ乗せて行け、具して行け。
    Hey, go pick them up and take them along!
From the 平家物語.

Word Note: これ can still be used in this same fashion.

8. やや、ものまうさむ。
    Hello, I have something that I would like to speak about. 
From the 大鏡.

Word Note: やや is like today’s もしもし. 

9. すは、しつることを。
    There, we did it!
From the 平家物語.

10. あつばれ、よからうかたきがな。
      Ah, it would be nice if there were a good opponent. 
From the 平家物語.

11. いかに夢かうつつか。
      Well, is this a dream or is this reality?
From the 平家物語.

12. いで、いときやうある事いふ老者らうしやかな。
      Well, aren’t you old men that say such interesting things!
From the 大鏡.

13. あはやと目をかけて飛んで掛かるに
      Wow, just when I had my eyes on it and sprang…
From the 平家物語.

Word Note: This interjection survives as the adverb あわやと which can be found in expressions like “あわやというところで” meaning “just in time”. 

14. 「さはれ、道にても」などといひて、みな乗りぬ。
      He said something like, “Still, but even in the road (isn’t it fine)?”, and everyone ended up riding. 
From the 枕草子.

15. すはや宮こそ南都なんとへ落ちさせ給ふなれ。
      There! It looks like the palace is to flee to the southern capital (Nara). 
From the 平家物語.

16. まことや法輪ほふりんは近ければ
      Yes that’s so, and since Hourin (Temple) is close,
From the 平家物語.

17. なんでふ、さやうのあそび者は、人のししたがうてこそまゐれ。
      No kidding, that prostitute is called upon by people and comes. 
From the 平家物語.


1. What is an interjection?

2. いさ = いいえ. Translate the following into English or Modern Japanese.


3. を was an interjection meaning “はい”. Make a sentence with it.

4. あなめでたや = ?

5. いざ is in Modern Japanese too. What does it mean, and how is it used?