Ready to continue reading the story of how the word "samurai" came to be through another "guided reading"?
"Guided reading" is a format I have designed to help you read and get used to Japanese syntax.
For each sentence that makes up the original text, I will first provide you with an English translation and a vocabulary list.
Read the content of each sentence in English and then take a look at the vocabulary list.
As you do this, your brain will calm down and the reading itself will turn into a kind of discovery of how those same ideas are expressed in Japanese.
Once you've done that, dive into the original Japanese text.
To help you further, I will provide its transcription in rōmaji and a word-for-word translation.
A Brief Summary of Part 1
In the first part of this guided reading, we saw how the word "samurai" came about.
"Samurai" is a relatively recent pronunciation that arose in the 16th century.
Before that, it was pronounced "saburahi" (Heian period), and then "saburai" (Kamakura to Muromachi periods).
In its earliest form, the word "samorahu" (Nara period) conveyed the meaning of "standing next to a nobleman, observing him and waiting for him to give orders.".
So, let’s keep reading:
Servants or Skilled Officials?
So, from the conjunctive form of "saburahu", the noun "saburahi" was created in the Heian period, and while this originally meant "to take care of one’s lord by being at his/her side, or the person [doing that]”, it later came to refer to a class of skilled officials (ginō kannin) of low to middle rank who served the imperial court while at the same time served upper class aristocrats, before finally coming to indicate warrior (bushi) which were part of such skilled officials.
sate, sono ‘saburahu’ no ren'yōkei kara Heian jidai ni ‘saburahi' to iu meishi ga umareta wake dearu ga, sono gengi wa ‘shukun no soba chikaku de mendō o miru koto, mata sono hito' de, ato ni chōtei ni tsukaeru kan'nin dearinagara dōji ni jōkyū kizoku ni shikō shita chū-ka-kyū no ginō kan'nin-sō o sasu yō ni nari, soko kara sō shita ginō kan'nin no ikkaku o kōsei shita ‘bushi' o sasu yō ni natta.
so | that | ‘saburahu’ | of | conjunctive form | from | Heian period | in | ‘saburahi’ | (quot.) | noun | (subj.) | was born | the-fact/thing-is | but | that | original meaning | as-for | ‘lord | at the side of | to take care | and moreover | that | person’ | was, and | later | court | at | serving | officials | while being | at the same time | upper class aristocrats | to | served | low- to middle ranking | skilled officials | (obj.) | to refer | came to-and | from there | such | skilled officials | of | one corner (part) | (obj.) | constituted | ‘bushi’ | (obj.) | indicate | came to
In other words, at the beginning, not only warriors (bushi) but also other low- to middle-ranking skilled officials such as the “myohoka” (legal experts) were regarded as “samurai”, so there was no element in the word indicating soldiers.
tsumari, saisho wa bushi nomi narazu, myōbōka nado no hoka no chū-ka-kyū ginō kan'nin mo ‘samurai' to sareta no deari, soko ni bujin o imi suru yōso wa nakatta no dearu.
in other words | at the beginning | bushi | not only… but also... | legal experts | etc. | of | other | | low- to middle ranking | skilled officials | also | ‘samurai’ | were regarded | the-fact/thing-is-and | there | soldiers | (obj.) | to mean | elements | didn’t exist | the-fact/thing-is
Status Didn’t Matter Anymore
As mentioned before, "saburahi" changed to "saburai" and then "samurai," but it was not until near the Edo period that people began to use this type of term to refer to warriors (bushi) in general, regardless of their status. Until then, it was limited to higher-ranking warriors (bushi) who were the vassals of aristocrats or shoguns.
zenjutsu shita yō ni, ‘saburahi' wa sono ato ‘saburai' ￫ ‘samurai' to gokei henka o togete itta ga, chi’i ni kankei naku bushi zenpan o kono shu no go de yobu yō ni natta no wa, Edo jidai chikaku kara deari, sore made wa kizoku ya shōgun nado no kashin dearu jōkyū bushi ni gentei sarete ita.
previously mentioned | as | ‘saburahi’ | as-for | after that | ‘saburai' ￫ ‘samurai' | (quot.) | word form | change | (obj.) | went accomplishing-and | status | regardless of | bushi | overall | (obj.) | this type | of | word | with | to call | when it came to | Edo period | near | from | was-and | until then | as-for | aristocrats | or | shoguns | etc. | of | vassals | were | higher-ranking warriors | to | was limited
In the “Vocabulario da Lingoa de Iapam" (literally the "Japanese – Portuguese Dictionary”), published in early seventeenth century, gave the terms “bushi” and “mononohu” were given Portuguese translations meaning “warrior” (bujin) and “military man” (gunjin), respectively. However, “saburai” was translated as “a nobleman or person to be respected”, so it was already widely recognized that samurais were a special class of people in the warrior (bushi) hierarchy.
17世紀初頭に刊行された『日葡辞書』では、Bushi（ブシ）や Mononofu（モノノフ）はそれぞれ「武人」「軍人」を意味するポルトガル語の訳語が与えられているのに対して、Saburai（サブライ）は「貴人、または尊敬すべき人」と訳されており、侍が武士階層の中でも、特別な存在と (いう) 見識が既に広まっていた。
jūnana seiki shotō ni kankō sareta “nippo jisho” de wa, bushi (bushi) ya mononofu (mononohu) wa sorezore ‘bujin' ‘gunjin' o imi suru porutogaru-go no yakugo ga ataerarete iru noni tai shite, saburai (saburai) wa ‘kijin, mata wa sonkei subeki hito' to yakusarete ori, samurai ga bushi kaisō no naka demo, tokubetsu na sonzai to (iu) kenshiki ga sude ni hiromatte ita.
seventeenth century | early part | in | was published | “Japanese-Portuguese dictionary” | in | as-for | bushi (bushi) | and | mononofu (mononohu) | as-for | respectively | ‘warrior’ | ‘military man’ | (obj.) | to mean | Portuguese language | of | translation-words | (subj.) | were assigned | in contrast with the fact | saburai (saburai) | as-for | ‘nobleman | and moreover | a person to be respected’ | as | was translated-and | samurais | warrior | hierarchy | among | special | presence | (quot.) | opinion | (subj.) | already | had spread
Here you go!
I have to admit that this text was a bit repetitive in some parts, but it served to give us an idea of the evolution of the word "samurai".
If you want to try to reread this second part without any help, here it is once again:
How did it go? Was the text more easily accessible after this "guided reading" exercise?
If you found this post helpful and interesting, please feel free to leave me a comment below and let me know what you think.