Closing off the tenth decade of the 1900s, we deal with not just two, but three translations, those by Wadagaki Kenzou (1910), Ueda Kazutoshi (1911) and Kondou Toshisaburou (1911).

Their Majesties - The King, the Son of Heaven and the Emperor:

You shall note that our three translators pick quite distinct words for the translation or adaptation of the title of the titular Monarch, namely, Wadagaki goes for ousama ("king"), Ueda pick tenshisama ("The Honourable Son of Heaven") and Kondou with koutei ("emperor").

We have glossed ousama before as a generic word for king with the added honorific of sama, which usually denotes in popular culture a king of western mould.

Tenshi-sama, however is based off the apotheosis of the Chinese emperor, where he claimed to rule by divine or heavenly mandate hence his title was "The Son of Heaven," where "Heaven" (Tian), alternatively could refer to the supreme sky-god of the ancient Chinese religion. Pronounced via reconstructed Old Chinese as /*qʰl'iːn/, which later evolved into /tʰen/ during the Middle Chinese which the Japanese later borrowed as the word and concept for what would become part of the word Tenshi and also Tennou, the Japanese monarch.

Koutei, is literally "august thearch," and combines two distinct terms of related to Chinese religion, whereas the latter element 帝 relates to the king of gods ("thearch"), in the vein of Zeus, Odin and Jupiter. Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor to coin the phrase Huangdi that would later be borrowed into Japanese as koutei, combined two terms referring to divine god-kings to create a title fit for an imperial ruler of a unified China.

Hence, whereas Wadagaki picks or rather demotes the Emperor of the story to the rank of king, the latter two translators pick words relating to emperorship, namely that of ancient China, whereof tenshi is the more archaic of the two.

Wadagaki's version lacks the Emperor or "King," referring to himself in the first person, whereas Ueda and Kondou have him using chin (朕), something that in some regards can be compared to the majestis pluralis - that is, a pronoun used by a monarch of someone of high noble status and not something that notes plurality.

The Emperor of Ueda's and Kondo's versions rarely use second pronouns, whereas Kondo's only uses sochi (其方, "thou", lit. "the other direction"), a pronoun usually used from someone of a superior social position towards one of lower, such as an emperor to his subjects. The same kanji can be used for sonata and sonohou, both of which are comparatively more polite if also as archaic as sochi.

Wadagaki's translation is overall even more truncated and abridged that that of Kimura, this however doesn't mean that the "King" has little dialogue (which he does have, but nevertheless there is enough to quote here):


Oo subarashii dekijanou, kondo no gyouretsu ni wa zettai kite ikou wa

"Oh, such wondrous occurrence, I must say! I shall jolly well be wearing these garbs for today's procession!"

They are present, namely "ja" ("that is"), "nou" and "wa": all the hallmarks of the senior sociolect - also known as the older Hiroshima dialect, as covered on this blog before, it's the lazy or time-honoured way - depending on how you view it - conveying that the speaker is elderly. The former, as noted in the bracketed translation, is a dated copula, and the latter two are emphatic particles primarily used by the older generation.

Ueda renders the Emperor's speech as:


"Hate korya dou ja. Chin ni wa nani mo miente, korya hitokoto dewa nai. Jibun wa baka kana. Tenshi taru shikaku wa nai no kana. Sayou na koto ga aru ni oite wa, kono mi ni totte ichidaiji ja."

"Egads! How be this possible. We cannot see aught. This is no trivial matter. I am a fool? That We have not the qualifications for being the Son of Heaven? Verily if that be so, then this is a most grave affair for me!"

He uses the formal taru ("as befits, in the role of") and ja is also present. He uses the colloquial korya which is short for kore wa ("that thing is"). As noted he uses a regal pronoun, despite his elderly patterns.

Ueda is generally very decorous, indeed, archaic when referring to the Emperor in the story, such as a few paragraphs from the opening shows:


Hiru wa ichijikangoto ni uwagi wo okigae ni naru node, hoka no kuni nara ousaam wo "heika wa kaigi no aida ni ohoshimasu" to iu tokoro wo, kono tokoro de wa "heika wa ishou no aida ni ohoshimasu.
Heika no mashimasu oomiyako wa hijou ni rippa na mono de mainichi gaikokujin ga dondon hairikonde kuru.

"During every hour of the afternoon, because His Majesty would be wearing his tunic, whereas it was said of other kings, 'His Majesty is currently gracing the council room,' it was said here that 'His Majesty is currently gracing the clothing chambers.'
His Majesty's grand capital was a most splendid thing that foreigners every day would continuously go through."

Apart from the courteous o~ninaru (お~になる, "the gentleman/madam does"), we see application of honorifics from Old Japanese at work, ohoshimasu (おほします, "the Emperor/gods are"), used in works such as the Norito, an ancient Shinto book of prayers and rituals, that would refer to the Emperor and the gods with this existential verb - essentially a double honorific form of words for "great/grand" and "honourable/august" that since fused phonologically during later periods of the language's history. There is also mashimasu, an honorific existential verb of similar exaltation as ohoshimasu and also of the same ancient age, here applied to Emperor's owning the Imperial city.

Ueda also uses the archaic if formal causative passive tense such as seen in shutsugyo serareta (出御せられた, "the Emperor made his entrance"), applying said respectful verbal form to the honorific noun shutsugyo (出御, "an Emperor's arrival," lit. most honourable entrance"), though 御 has also the ancient Chinese meaning of "to govern" and "Imperial."

Kondo gives us:


"Sono tanmono koso tenkaichi no chouhou ja, chin ga sore wo uwagi ni shitate sase te kite ireba, sore no mieeru to mirenai te, shinkara no kengu ga youi ni iwakeraruru douri, kore wa sassoku sono monodomo ni meijite ittan orasezuba narumai."

"Such fabric must be the most precious of treasures in the entire world, if We were to wear such a coat then we should be able by reason of this, to ascertain with the greatest ease the wise from the foolish of Our retainers. We shall decree it at once to that these weaver fellows must oblige to weave for Us!"

There's tenkaichi (天下一, "the best in the world," lit. "number one under the heavens.") and several archaic traits that in the same vein as Ueda's that render his speech appropriate for an elderly monarch. He uses the term chouhou (重寳) which can also mean "convenience" as well as literally "precious treasure", the word is normally spelled 重宝 in modern orthography, using the simplified variant of the latter meaning "treasure." Therefore there may be a pun intended in how the clothes are "treasures", but also a useful "measure/convenience" in how to gauge the competence of his retainers.

The Old Minister:

Wadagaki renders his title as Daijin (大臣, "Cabinet Minister"), Ueda gives Saishou (宰相, "Prime Minister") and Kondou gives the full version of the former title, Souri Daijin (總理大臣, lit. "Over-Presiding Grand Minister", also "Premier"). which whilst written 総理大臣 in modern Japanese, is the usual full title of the Prime Minister of Japan.

Wadagaki has the Minister be positively reticent with no dialogue whatsoever, whereas Ueda and Kondou have him much more loquacious.

Both Ueda and Kondou have the Minister refer to himself with washi, the standard geriatric pronoun, but Ueda uses the kanji 私, the etymon for the pronoun, ordinarily read as watashi and more formally watakushi, with its overtones of formality and politeness, and Kondou uses 俺, read as ore in regular circumstances, with itself being the informal assertive male pronoun. Thus, Ueda has him with the underscoring sense of being a proper and prim state-official and Kondou renders him merely a flustered regular bloke.

He does change his pronoun in Kondou's version when declaring that he shall deliver the message to the Emperor concerning that the clothes are up to His Majesty's wishes:


"Moyou to ii to iroai, moushibun no nai joujou no deki ja, heika wa sessha ga kono mune soujou shitara, sazo gomanzoku na koto de arou to omou."

"The patterns and the colours are the best of the best that one simply cannot criticise them. This humble one shall at once convey the propitious news to His Majesty. It is most certain that His Majesty shall be fully satisfied."

He uses the self-deprecating and archaic pronoun sessha (拙者, lit. "this clumsy person"), which most people will probably associate with samurai films where the samurai use this pronoun as their go-to pronoun. It stands in sharp contrast to his washi using the kanji for ore, that is by far the most informal pronoun with no shades of modesty.

Ueda renders the Minister's speech as:


"Washi wa kono orimono ni wa jitsu ni kanpuku shite oru kara, sono mune wo kanarazu heika he soujou ni oyobou."

"I shall most definitely  convey to His Majesty that these textiles are most worthy of admiration."

Less self-deprecation than in Kondou's version, that is fairy-tale courtiers for you.

The Swindlers:

Rendering this into a simple overview:

Wadagaki - hataori (織工, "weaver")
Wadagaki does not directly call them swindlers merely describing them by their profession, here giving the word shokkou ("weaver") the non-standard pronunciation hataori, whilst still literally meaning "weaver," is written 機織, composed of "loom" and "weaving," and shokkou with "weaving" and "worker," hence presumably to layer two common words for the profession, but highlighting with the kanji their sly industriousness, as 工 can also mean "craft/means/idea" when used on its own and pronounced takumi.

Ueda - sagishi (詐欺師, "swindler/impostor")
Literally, "master of fraud/swindling". A rather ordinary word for "swindler," but the suffix shi tends to indicate an expert within their field of work.

Kondou - sagishi (欺僞師, "master of cheating and lies")
As noted above sagishi is the regular word for "swindler," and here Kondou applies an apparent self-made compound with this reading, literally referring to their mendacious and deceptive mastery, but giving it a much more common pronunciation, essentially adding an extra nuance of meaning to the word.

How do they talk? As in the previous versions, smoke-blowing, posterior-kissing and slippery to the point that the imperial court are all too pleased. I would say this, but Wadagaki once more is economic with the language can simply cuts off their blandiloquence and promptly just have them act as silent agents of the King's birthday-gear procession.

Ueda and Kondou are thankfully much more generous in this regard, where two examples from each shall suffice:

"Uketamawatte kyouetsushigoku ni zonjimasu"
"We humbly express our most sincere rapture at this, Sir."

Uketamawaru is of high antiquity and also formality, meaning "to humbly acquiesce/express" this is coupled with its fellow ancient verb zonjiru ("to humbly have the opinion"), thus they are right from the start kissing His Excellency's arse.

"Heika, nanitozo omeshimono wo onugi kudasaremasu youni, sasureba kono ookagami no mae ni te goshinchou no gyofuku wo okisemousu de gozarimasuru."
"Your Majesty, pray if Your Majesty would deign to declothe, that we then would be able to garb Your Majesty most reverently in front of the mirror in the Imperial Robes."

More, more and even more! Nanitozo (pray/please), kudasaremasuru, the archaic and honorific form of kudasaru (to bestow, to please do), gyofuku ("the Emperor's clothes"), using the archaic honorific gyo-, rounding it all off with okisemousu and gozarimasuru, whereof the former uses mousu in its archaic sense as a humble auxiliary verb, "to do/to ask of," and the latter a more decorous form of gozaimasu ("to honourably be").


『何とお役人さま! 私共が腕に縒リをかけて致す仕事の事ですから、是非の御批評を伺ひたいので御座ります。』
"Nani wo oyakunin-sama! Watakushidomo ga ude ni yori wo kakete itasu shigoto no koto desukara, zehi no gohihyou wo ukagaitai no de gozarimasu."
"Ah, what is the matter, Lord Minister? Since we humble people have put all our might and main into this task, we would most respectfully ask of your most honourable review!"

Good old watakushidomo, the humble first person plural, is present, as is the humble verbs itasu ("to humbly do") and ukagai ("to humbly enquire").

"Watakushidomo futari no ookagami no mae de, tadaima shitate agatte hakari no oguai yoku okisemoushimashou."
"Us two humble people most politely request that Your Majesty would go undress before the grand mirror, that we then take the necessary measurements for Your Majesty's condition, that we garb Your Majesty."

Nothing that has not been mentioned before, as Ueda, they use the okisemousu construction to express the request of wanting most humbly to take the measurements and dress the Emperor.

All three of the translators - when the Emperor accolades them with court titles - render their noble titles of væverjunker (weaver-knight):

Wadagaki: gotenfuhataori (御殿付機織, "Weaver to the Royal Court")
Ueda: goyouorimonoshi (御用織物師, "Official Textile Master")
Kondou: teishitsuorimono'i'in (帝室織物委員, "Committee Member of the Imperial Household’s Weavers")

Kondou takes the court title and gives it a magnanimous dose of Imperial grandiloquence. Not only are they weavers of the Imperial Court or Household, but they are prominent members of the official committee, that therefore hints towards His Majesty wanting to hire more weavers of varying degrees of morality. One suspects that he probably will not be as desirous towards hiring Swindlers that render wondrous invisible clothes, but his vanity is the entire pivoting piece of the story, as well.

The Emperor is naked!

Thus we reach the climax of the story,

"Yaa, ousama wa mappadaka dai"
"Wow, the King is completely butt-naked!"

"Demo, tenshisama wa nani mo kichaainai yo"
"But the Son of Heaven ain't wearing anythin' at all!"

『お父さん! 私の目には天皇陛下の衣服なんど見えなくってよ!』
"Otousan! Atai no me ni wa tennou heika no ifuku nando mienakutte yo!"
"Father! I still can't see His Imperial Majesty's clothes!"

Notably Kondou gives the child extra dialogue and giver her the informal if dialectal version of watashi, namely atai as well as referring to her father with the honorific form otousan.

Next we shall look at a new decade and its translations.