をして

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Japanese[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Derived as a combination of accusative / object particle (wo, modern pronunciation o) + the conjunctive form して of classical verb (su), modern verb する (suru, to do, emphasis on active voice). Used to mark the indirect object or patient of a causative expression. This appears very early in the written record in the Shoku Nihongi, completed in 797 CE, representing late-Nara period and early-Heian period Japanese. This usage persists in the modern language, but is restricted to formal literary writing.[1][2][3]

Pronunciation[edit]

Particle[edit]

をして (rōmaji o shite)

  1. (archaic, literary, formal) indicates the patient of a causative expression; used with the auxiliary verb しめる (shimeru) to mark the causative
    天才 (てんさい)をして (かがや)しめる
    tensai o shite kagayakashimeru
    to make genius shine

Usage notes[edit]

Historically used primarily in the Japanese reading of 漢文 (kanbun, literally “Chinese texts”; Japanese texts written in a version of Classical Chinese). Later, in works written natively in Japanese, the (o) was omitted and just して (shite) was used instead. Over time, をして (o shite) with the (o) again became common, and in the modern language, this is used exclusively in literary contexts to impart a traditional and formal tone.

Prior to the mid-Heian period, the verb was not necessarily conjugated in the causative, and をして (o shite) was used to mark the subject of the action. Starting from the mid-Heian period, the verb was conjugated with the causative auxiliary しむ (shimu) in the classical form or しめる (shimeru) in the modern form.

In modern non-literary Japanese, this has been superseded by the particle (o) for intransitive verbs (自動詞, jidōshi), and (ni) for transitive verbs (他動詞, tadōshi), together with the standard causative endings せる (seru) or させる (saseru).

天才 (てんさい) (かがや)せる
tensai o kagayakaseru
to make genius shine

References[edit]

  1. ^ 1988, 国語大辞典(新装版) (Kokugo Dai Jiten, Revised Edition) (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Shogakukan
  2. ^ 2006, 大辞林 (Daijirin), Third Edition (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Sanseidō, →ISBN
  3. ^ 1995, 大辞泉 (Daijisen) (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Shogakukan, →ISBN