Here is a quickie in regards to discovery I made in terms of a weird if interesting variant way of writing an old polite imperative or optative mode of constructing a verb, namely tamau (たまう, "to beg [a superior] to grant [a wish]"), which is typically written with the kanji 給 that anciently meant "to bestow", but nowadays is used the verb mostly in its kana-writing is used as a masculine informal imperative.

It is a close relative of the reverential (sonkeigo) verb tamawaru (賜わる, to bestow/grant [as a superior does to his subordinates])

In one of the translations of Don Quixote, we encountered it written in a more decorous way - the eponymous knight's main way of talking and acting is to emulate the ancient knight romances that he madly idolises to the point of becoming quixotic:


"Waga himegimi Darushinea no kimi, wagashinrei (no zenbu) wo tsukamaete owasuru himegimi, onmi wo shitaimairasu tame, kabakari ooku no shinsan shinobu onmi no dorei, kouki naru kokorobase wo kesshite wasuretamauna."

"Your Highness, O Princess, my lady Dulcinea! Whom my soul and heart (all of it) hath been held captive by, O Princess! For Your sake do I most humbly toil and pine, thus doth Your servant endureth numerous hardships! Pray, Your Highness, grant me the favour of never forgetting this my noble heart!"
("Adventures of Don Quixote - Don Kihôtê Eigochuugaku Kishayakuchuu", 1921)

Here the good knight is daydreaming and supplicating his imaginary princess to pay attention to his travails as he tries to render himself a worthy knight for her honour. And fitting the language of the knight is cast in archaic polite speech - more to the point, the verb tamau is in the negative tamau ("pray grant me (that you) not" or "please do not") -  is written with the kanji 玉 (tama, "jewel, jade") which is homophone with the stem of the verb, but otherwise is rarely used as a verb, thus the pleasing phonaesthetic nuance of the kanji and sound elevate the good Don Quixote's wish to even further levels of archaic politeness.

Also present is mairasu, an otherwise obsolete archaic humble verb meaning "to endeavour humbly to perform," related to the modern mairu (参る, "to humbly go forth") and serves as a precursor to the modern multi-purpose verbal ending -masu.

I will be covering more of the Don Quixote translations in future posts.