Moving along now on our short trip through Kojiki. In the previous post we saw really a mean-spirited little song from Yamato-takeru. A little smug of him. The story preceding the following song is very brief, essentially Yamato-takeru is travelling. Continue reading for the full analysis:

He sings (the original from section LXXXVI of the Basil Hall Chamberlain 1919 edition):

新治 筑波 過ぎて 幾夜か 寝つる

nihibari tsukuwa o su   gi  te ikuyoka ne  tsuru

Nihibari Tsukuwa [d.obj] passing [perf] how many nights (I) slept

How many nights have I slept after passing Nihibari and Tsukawa?

The breakdown:

新治 (nihibari) has two meanings. 1) newly cultivated land. 2) place name. In this case it probably takes the second meaning. Nihibari is a place in Hitachi (常陸) – roughly the NE part of modern-day Ibaraki prefecture (茨城県). It has also been said that it might be a makura-kotoba (pillow-word/epithet/枕詞) for Tsukuwa. [makura-kotoba (枕詞) is a kind of epithet that is a poetic convention in Japan and does not hold much meaning in and of itself]. But, that doesn’t really get us anywhere. On March 27, 2006, both the town and district of Niihari (modern day pronunciation) were dissolved.

筑波 (tsukuwa) is another place name. It was apparently listed in the Wamyoushou (倭名鈔)—a Heian era dictionary—lists it as Tsukuwa village, Tsukuwa district. Which is the modern day town of 田井 (tai?), Tsukuba district, Ibaraki prefecture according to the Japanese note in the text. However, the district of Tsukuba was dissolved on March 27, 2006, so this is no longer the case.

is the direct object marker, just like in Modern Japanese.

過ぎて (sugi-te) is the renyoukei of the 上二段verb sugi (to pass), and, depending on how you prefer it, either the auxiliary , or the renyoukei of perfective . Either way, it functions as a kind of temporal link between two events. The effect is the same: action A occurs action B occurs.

幾夜か (iku-yo-ka) is a combination of: iku (how many, think modern Japanese いくらですか?. Although this has the same effect as ~どれくらいの), yo (night), and ka (question particle).

寝つる (ne-tsuru) is the renyoukei of 下二段 verb , and the rentaikei of the perfective , which according to Shirane’s wonderfully useful grammar book has a kind of “ended up doing” implication, much like modern てしまった. It usually follows transitive verbs, and is therefore related to volitional actions.

But here is the question. Why is it in the attributive form (rentaikei 連体形)? This is the form verbs take when they modify nouns. What is the noun being modified here? None exists, of course. There is a peculiar rule refered to as nanzoyaka. It simply states that, when following any of the said particles (ka, ya, zo, etc.), the final verb will take the rentaikei inflection. Strange, but true.