A Scandanavian problem

(Horeta ga inga;
“The lover’s lot is karma”)


For someone who has fallen in love, suffering because of it is an unavoidable part of human existence. When one is in love, pain is an inevitable result – in part due to karmic consequences from previous incarnations. A statement of resignation to the fact that love is not always an entirely happy or pleasant experience.


We begin with the verb 惚れる (horeru), “to be charmed by,” “to fall in love with.” This appears in past tense and is functioning as a noun; one may imagine that it precedes the nominalizer こと (koto) but that this has been elided. The resulting noun phrase is marked as a grammatical subject by the particle が (ga) Its predicate is the noun 因果 (inga) – literally “cause and fruit,” metaphorically “cause and effect,” or by extension specifically the laws of karma.


This saying seems to have become somewhat obscure, but is nonetheless the ほ (ho, although note that it was likely pronounced more like oh or wo) entry in the Osaka iroha karuta set. Like another recent entry, this phrase comes from the joururi play 『神霊矢口渡』 (Shinrei yaguchi no watashi). This is likely not a coincidence.

Example sentence:


(Konkai no kenka wa sasai na gokai ga gen’in datta kara, ichinichi mo tatani uchi ni nakanaori dekita kedo, kenkajuu wa mune ga kurushikute, horeta ga inga wo iya to iu hodo omoishitta.)

[The argument was rooted in a simple misunderstanding, so they were able to make up in less than a day. But while it lasted it was like a physical ache, and I grudgingly had to acknowledge the painful fate of one in love.]

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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