I’m still here. I know I didn’t post for a while – sorry. It’s just that I didn’t come across any words to write about.
So this, we’ll be talking about misasagi. Again, this is a case where the kanji is of no use, so we can forget about it. Let’s think about native Japanese words.
The first thing that stands out is that this word is a noun, and that it ends on an i-sound (ie “ee”-sound for English speakers). While not conclusive, this is a good indication that this noun is probably derived from some verb, asl one of the functions of the 連用形-form of a verb is to turn it into a noun.
You should remember this well, there are many nouns in Japanese that are derived from verbs like this, even some simple words you probably never though about. To list a few examples, hikari light from the verb [i]光る hikaru[/i], tatami (mat) from the verb 畳む tatamu to fold, mizugi swimsuit from the noun 水 mizu water and the verb 着る kiru to wear, inori prayer from the verb 祈る pray, or tsugi the next from the verb 次ぐ tsugu to follow.
The next thing that catches our attention is the first syllable, mi, as it reminds us of the word 御 mi august, used when talking about persons of high status. Which would leave us with sasagi, which we predict comes from a verb sasagu. Now we should ask ourselves the most important question, does such a verb exist, and does it make sense?
In fact, it does. Although to many learners of Japanese, its modern form 捧げる sasageru is the one they will be familiar with. Which brings me to another vital point for Japanese etymology, namely that many transitive/intransitive verb pairs derive from the same original word.
To illustrate this, think about the verb pair 終える oeru 終わる owaru, which both basically mean “end, finish”. I don’t wish to explain the difference here, as that is of no importance. The interesting point is that both these verb are derived from the now archaic verb 終ふ をふ ō end, finish, probably through combination with some other verb such as 有る aru or 得る. Again, Japanese learners will find examples of this aplenty.
Back to today’s topic, sasageru derives from 捧ぐ sasagu offer, devote, dedicate, sacrifice. The last piece of the puzzle is found, misasagi is a place devoted to persons of high status, ie imperial tomb.
I’ll try to post again sooner this time. 捧ぐ me your 祈りs…