I was curious about -ざる

I love the Japanese movie adaptation of Unforgiven. 「許されざる者」

My Japanese level is pretty elementary, but I was curious about the suffix ざる used in the title. I know its a literary version of ない. I was curious if it is typically used in writing? Is it used here because it was a Meiji period depiction and not seen much anymore. Thanks for your thoughts!

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Yes, it sounds archaic most of the time.

ざる can actually be used in the expression ~ざるを得ない, which is used to express an undesirable but unavoidable situation, like a more serious way of saying ~しかない. I heard it in the staffroom where I work the other day. It can be informal, but quite serious.

そうせざるを得ない (I have no choice but to do that.) note that する with ざる is せざる
That’s not actually what I heard, I don’t remember the verb that was used, but that’s a dictionary example.

Just using ざる on its own, outside of that expression will definitely sound literary and old-fashioned.


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