古文 learning resources

Lately I’ve been encountering some 古文 and ended up asking about it in the Short Grammar Questions thread (@Jonapedia). I thought it might be worth some dedicated study outside of immersion, so I went looking for resources. So far, I’ve found a Tofugu article, the Weblio 古文辞書, and a random blog.

Does anybody know of other decent, free online resources for learning 古文? Anything in Japanese would be a bonus for the immersion points.

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I use this website: https://www.kotenbunpou.com/
(Modern grammar version is: https://www.kokugobunpou.com)

I don’t really know much about 古文, so it’s possible even that 古典文法 website doesn’t cover the grammar you want to learn. But it’s still a useful website.

(I do see that るる thing from the other day, so this website might work.)

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My current main resource is the Weblio dictionary that you mentioned. I think there are also Japanese YouTube channels that will come up if you google 古文授業 or something along those lines. I don’t remember any names, unfortunately. I suspect Imabi also has a section on Classical Japanese, but to be very frank, as detailed as Imabi is, I often have doubts as to how much to trust the author, because I don’t remember sources being cited for many of the finer points on usage, and I have no idea where the author’s knowledge is from.

As for where my knowledge is from… mostly random googling that occurs in the process of working out archaic grammar in structures that are leftover in modern Japanese, or while attempting to understand old haiku. I’ve never studied 古文 specifically because I felt like the only resources worth studying were those in Japanese, so I decided to focus on developing my modern Japanese knowledge and ease into Classical Japanese while preparing for the N1, since quite a bit of ‘high-level’ grammar is archaic. I just wanted to explain the logic behind my approach and priorities. Of course, if you’re curious and want to study 古文 in greater depth right now, go right ahead. I hope you enjoy yourself. :slight_smile:

Now then, other resources that might be worth mentioning:

  • https://kobunworld.blog.fc2.com – I found this blog while searching about old kana, in particular the question of whether or not ‘wu’ ever existed in Japanese. It’s in both English and Japanese, with the two versions being translations of each other, if I remember correctly, so it’s probably one of the most accessible resources on old Japanese.
  • 古典 文法 – this site has a bunch of succinct pages summarising what each of the major particles and helper verbs does in Classical Japanese. It’s not as pretty (or as detailed) as what @seanblue posted (and I frankly find that site easier to read), but if you need a to-the-point reference source while you’re trying to decipher some old Japanese, I think this is quite useful.

There you go. There probably are other resources worth considering, but I don’t really know what to recommend other than continuing to read (modern!) Japanese dictionary entries on sites like Weblio or Kotobank for 古文 verbs, because they’re often fairly detailed as well. I honestly think it might be worth buying a book on this stuff in Japanese if you want a lot of detail. (I have one sitting on my shelf right now that I intend to open around the end of my N1 prep i.e. once I’m confident that I’ll score at least 177/180 on the N1. My objective is a perfect score because my friend in Japan knows someone who did it after learning Japanese mainly through immersion as a Niconico streamer.)

I guess my final recommendation would be to start your studies by learning about traditional Japanese grammar forms, which is what they teach in Japanese schools. (Here’s a Wikipedia page to start you off, if you want. There’s no need to read the entire thing though, in my opinion: Appendix:Japanese verbs - Wiktionary .) Look up the six stems of verbs and adjectives (未然形、連用形、終止形、連体形、仮定形・已然形、命令形) and find out what changed in general between 古文 and 現代文 (which are also contrasted as 文語 and 口語). The only form that gets changed is the 仮定形・已然形 pair, and you’ll see how their meanings are different even though they look the same. (By the way, for the sake of looking up verbs in dictionaries easily, do memorise the six stems in the order I just listed them. I did it by taking the traditional AIUEO vowel order in Japanese and turning it into AIUUEE. It matches the final vowel of each stem for 五段 verbs in modern Japanese. The stems will always be listed in that order.) Once you know the six stems, you’ll be able to see analogies between 古文 and modern Japanese more easily, especially by looking at verbs and ク- and シク-adjectives, which are the ancestors of い-adjectives. I don’t know much beyond that, so I’ll just wish you luck finding more resources. I hope you make lots of fun discoveries along the way. :slight_smile:

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I have to agree with your recommendation to study traditional grammar forms. I sometimes find myself stumbling while reading monolingual dictionaries like Weblio because I’m not familiar with the linguistics terminology, so this is likely overdue. The second link @seanblue shared seems like it would be helpful for that. Then I’ll move on to studying 古文. It’ll probably make more sense that way.

I’m not intending to read 源氏物語 soon, but I would like to understand what that cat is talking about :cat2:

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