How do I deal with "old" grammar?

Recently, I’ve been trying to prepare to replay through Dragon Quest I, a game I absolutely love. I’ve run into something of an issue though. Just like how some characters speak in Old English in the localized version, it would seem some use a kind of “ancient” grammar, namely the King so far. I was confused about “血をひきし者”, which after googling is like an abnormal, old way to conjugate 血を引く. Is there a more modern way to conjugate that verb? And how do I deal with stuff like this in the future? Do I need to start studying this kind of grammar for the sake of playing more video games in the future, do I have it all wrong and this is actually normally conjugation? This topic has been discouraging me as of late… I am learning Japanese to replay my favorite games and be able to play unlocalized titles for the first time (some of which are in the Dragon Quest series, so I think it’s a valid thing to worry about). Thanks in advance!
Edit: This is the Anki Deck I was using Game - Dragon Quest 1 - AnkiWeb


In modern Japanese you actually wouldn’t conjugate the verb for this usage since you modify a noun with the dictionary form of a verb. I’m still trying to find the right information to share on that older conjugation, and if I can I’ll post again.


Honestly, I think you might be over-estimating the problem somewhat. I played DQ1 in Japanese (the Famicom version in case that makes a difference), and while I’m not necessarily a great judge of how writing comes across in Japanese (especially at the time) I felt like characters’ registers were much much less old-timey than the localization. Like, they felt not much far off from Akira Toriyama manga dialogue to me, to match his art style, with the king sounding a little like an old fart, the princess like a spoiled brat, etc. Whereas for Dragon Warrior they felt the need to completely scrub over that with thees and thous and more serious looking art, making it far stuffier.

Doesn’t mean there’s not some specialized vocabulary and old-timey words here and there! (and casual register definitely has its own obstacles!) But it might help make it less intimidating to know you don’t need to like, know the equivalent of Hamlet-style English to play it. Experience reading manga and books will definitely help you with Dragon Quest and vice-versa.

In general, for things like this though, I would recommend just searching parts you’re confused about in Japanese - you can configure google to return English or Japanese results, and if you’re confused about it and think it may be old-fashioned, chances are someone else was confused about it at some point too.
It’s also useful that Dragon Quest is incredibly popular and surely talked about endlessly, so you might even be able to turn up let’s plays or comments about it. And maybe even fan translation scripts people have made to help you navigate it!


That’s a relief… but yeah you’re right I’d be surprised if the Japanese version was as over the top with dialects as the English version. Hopefully I’ll be able to persevere through the grammar oddities.

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One thing I’d definitely recommend is read the manual (I always search for [game name] 説明書 and while it doesn’t always have the scans, there’ll usually be a helpful site). Since most of the game as long as you can read verbs like たたかう you can get through mechanically, most of the words and like, plot-type stuff will be in there.
And you can gauge how difficult or easy it will be for you based on it too.

Also - feel free to ask questions here as well! There’s a thread for short grammar questions and short uh, non-grammar questions and honestly that’s probably often one of the easiest ways to figure something out.


This HiNative question explains 血をひきし者 at a very high level. But now that I know the answer I was able to backtrack to an explanation. First a correction: 血をひきし者 in modern Japanese would not be 血をひく者; it would be 血をひいた者.

As the HiNative answers say (the first two are useful), it’s a conjugation of ひく + the auxiliary verb き + a conjugation of that to し to allow it to modify a noun. (き is 終止形, し is 連体形 in this case.) You can find more information on this grammar point here if you want: 「き・けり」 - 古典文法

I recommend that website a lot for classic grammar. And here is the modern grammar equivalent if you’re interested: 助動詞 - 国語の文法(口語文法)


I couldn’t really find anything either. If I had to guess, I’d say it you could think of it as 引きした jammed onto 者, which can kind of make sense in that it sounds old-timey.

The American version thees and thous aren’t historical at all either. They’re a modern construct of what the audience thinks people use to talk like, especially since “you” was technically a more formal register than “thee”.

Edit: Nvm I guess you found it. Took to long to reply. Lol


I remembered that for 形容詞, the old 終止形 was し and the old 連体形 was き, and that also follows for べし・べき. And I remembered that there was something that was the opposite, where 終止形 was き and the old 連体形 was し. I just couldn’t remember what it was, and it took my a while to find it. :laughing:


(For a bit I thought a newer port was stuffier but I foolishly overlooked the let’s player of the older version I picked was returning from a prior save - disregard. The remake looks the same but with kanji)

Though one point from that - the (relatively) dense lore dump is up front and after that there’s little dialogue, and when there is it’s a lot more casual, which may be why I remember it mainly that way.

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I would say its a pretty normal conjugation overall, it just has niche uses. 選ばれし者 isn’t a particularly rare expression to come across. Same for other things with し or き in songs I listen to. The title of the book I just bought has both of them lol 青き月の魔女と呪われし王.

I think overall, theres like a select few pieces of old grammar that still are used in a lot of modern stuff for effect, and thats one of them. So I wouldn’t really worry too much about it honestly. There has only been one piece of modern entertainment that I have tried and wanted to understand that felt too old timey to understand and it was a song that came out a few years ago and had extra japanese subtitles in modern japanese so I take it other japanese people couldn’t understand it anyways.

If you’re actually reading old stuff, you’ll probably need to study it explicitly, but modern stuff trying to feel old is usually fine to approach the same way you would approach all other grammar or words.