It makes them inside

(Ten wa hito no ue ni hito wo tsukurazu hito to shita ni hito wo tsukurazu;
“Heaven does not make people above people, does not make people below people”)


All humans are born equal, and should not be discriminated against on the basis of arbitrary social groupings such as caste, class, or occupation.


We begin with the topic-marker particle は (wa) marking the noun 天 (ten), “heaven,” meaning the whole sentence is about what Heaven does (not do). The following comment is divided into two complete clauses, each ending in the verb 造る (tsukuru), “to make,” in imperfective form and taking the negative suffix ず (zu). The cute part is that zu is both the conjunctive form and the sentence-final form of the suffix, so the two 造らず are actually grammatically different while looking identical.

In each case, the particle を (wo) marks the preceding noun 人 (hito), “person,” as the direct object of the verb. Meanwhile, the 人 in each case is preceded by the locational particle に (ni). And what are these locations? In the first case, 人 (hito, “person”) の (no, associative particle) 上 (ue, “above”), and in the second case, 人の plus 下 (shita, “below”).


This saying comes from 『学問のすゝめ』 (Gakumon no susume, note the kana-doubling mark in place of the second su), An Encouragement of Learning, a series of pamphlets produced beginning in 1872 extolling the virtues of study and hard work, both as individual self-improvement and for the betterment of a nation, by writer Fukuzawa Yukichi.

Example sentence:


(“Shin no byoudou no jitsugen wa madamada saki ni naru darou to omowaremasu ga, ten wa hito no ue ni hito wo tsukurazu hito no shita ni tsukurazu, mazu wa houritsujou no byoudou wo mezasu koto ga seijika no gimu no hitotsu no de aru to omotte orimasu.”)

[“It seems that there’s a long way to go before true equality can be realized, however, as Heaven maketh not man above man, nor below, I believe that one of the duties of the statesman is first to aim for equality under the law.”]

About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
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