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The age of the samurai makes one of the best thematic settings for any Japanese movie or TV show. There are so many great historical figures to profile, and even more fictional characters to imagine ourselves as! We might have the look, but how did they talk? What words did they use?

The Japanese language has a word for this “samurai language” called monofu-go. An accidental de gozaru (samurai for “to be”) and a parting katajikenai (samurai for “grateful” or “indebted”) is only the beginning of being “old school” cool. Well fear not, RocketNews24 brings you level two! Here are four more phrases and words that were used back in the day that will help you expand your monofu-go vocabulary!


Image: Hakuoki Wiki

  • Kiden (貴殿)

A word that means “you”, but it’s a respectful way to address your companions or people of higher status than you. It also really shows your affection and admiration for your equals. If you don’t feel that way about your companions or are wondering what the opposite might be, 貴公 (kiko) might come in handy.

  • Yannurukana (やんぬるかな)

When you are on the ropes, down and out, and there is no course for victory in sight, get the last word in with this “samurai cool” expression meaning “it’s finished” or “there is no other way”, literally “I give up”. When you can’t go on, and you utter something like “Ahhh, yunnurukana!” perhaps the world will be so impressed with your monofu-go that the winning path will be revealed to you! (Probably not).

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Image: Rurouni Kenshin Wiki

  • Kokugen (刻限)

This is a word that is used for a “time that has been established or determined” such as “I will be late for our agreed upon time“. In the past, it was especially used as a word meaning “time to separate”. Imagine at the end of the night of drinking with your samurai buddies, you turn to your friends and tell them, “We have drunk to our established time; we must return home.” Your friends will surely be impressed!

  • Yakutai mo nai (益体もない)

Literally meaning “there is no benefit/good”, in other word it’s “useless”. It also had the meaning of “boring” or “dull/uninteresting”, a different and cooler way to say tsumaranai. Waiting for the next great samurai anime is certainly yakutai mo nai.

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Image: Samurai Deeper Kyo Wiki

Practice these four phrases and you’ll be ready to jump into the next period drama on NHK! During the audition you might say, “Kiden are an amazing director and there is no way I will let the show be yakutai mo nai. It’s going to be so utterly fantastic because there is no such thing as yannurukana!” You will seal the deal with the casting directors with the way you turn to them at the end of the audition and tell them, “Today is already kokugen, but we will see each other again! Katajikenai!” (Disclaimer: RocketNews24 does not guarantee success when using these phrases.)

You might even find that some of these words have survived into the language today. Either way, your life goal of living in the age of the samurai is going to come true…de gozaru!

For another look at how modern Japanese differs from samurai Japanese, check out this video below!

▼Our favorite Totoro song transcribed into samurai language. Goodbye katakana words!

Source: Hachima Kiko
Top Image: Gintama Wiki