凪のよせてかえるこえ

Riccardo91

Senior Member
Italian
Dear Japanese forum,

I'm having troubles with a scene in a cartoon where the community people of a shrine are rehearsing a 神楽 for a 祭り. A woman starts singing:

凪のよせてかえるこえ
(A couple of attempts: "A voice coming home brought by the lull", "The voice of the lull approaching home".)

That's all we hear and there's no further context to clarify the meaning. I don't even know if こえ stands for 声 or if it's some verb declination.

Also, this verse was not in the script, so it has been transcribed from the audio. I have an English translation saying "Towards the waves, coming home", so the author probably heard 波 instead of 凪, but I'm pretty sure I'm hearing the ぎ.

I'm completely at a loss, the grammatical construction seems strange to me. Do you have any hints?

Thank you so much!
 
  • Flaminius

    hedomodo
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    A typical theme in the traditional Japanese poetry is the ebb and flow of waves, e.g., 寄せては返す波. The chant in your kagura makes perfect sense if 凪 were 波. There would be no grammatical errors in 波の寄せて返る声.

    Since a lull is the absence of waves, a lull going towards and away from the shore is an oxymoron, a rare literary trope to be used in pre-modern Japanese. I tend to wager that 波 was intended by the author.
     

    Riccardo91

    Senior Member
    Italian
    If so, I guess I'm mishearing that part, after all.
    If I understand correctly, now the meaning would be "A voice going back and forth with the waves", am I right?

    Thank you so much for your explanation!
     

    Flaminius

    hedomodo
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    Oops, I wasn't aware this poses some difficulty to learners....

    波の声 (the modifier is split from the modified in your text) is the sound of waves. The way 声 is used here is retained in fossilised expressions like this, but 声 had more general usage in older Japanese. E.g., 九九の呼び声 (mnemonic phrases of the 9x9 multiplication table).

    It is slightly off-topic, but 波の寄せて返る声 is not poetic enough. I am clearly going beyond what your text is about and what you may want to know, but a more apt phrase for a kagura portion was 寄せては返す波の声. The author may have wanted to modify it because it is really a set phrase, but a set phrase has a reason it became a set phrase. My preference here is simply the metics that governs the traditional Japanese poetry. The moraic structure of 寄せては返す波の声 is 7-5, or a seven-mora grammatical constituent followed by a 5-mora constituent. The alternation between seven morae and five morae is the basis of what passes as rhythmical.
     

    Riccardo91

    Senior Member
    Italian
    So it's "The sound of the waves going back and forth", right?

    Thank you for the additional explanation, it's really interesting! Personally I think your version is also easier to understand, but maybe I'm just biased as a non-native.

    Thank you again!
     
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