In addition to the auxiliary verbs ～させる and ～せる, there is a third auxiliary verb in Japanese that demonstrates causation: ～しめる. This ending is primarily found in older Japanese, but it still lives on today.
Traditionally, ～しめる was in a verb class 下二段活用動詞. These verbs exhibited fluctuation between two vowels in their bases, much like stem-vowel changing verbs do in European languages. Although little of this grammar remains in Modern Japanese, when using ～しめる, some speakers/writers may fluctuate between its traditional and modern conjugations. This allows for a modern outlet for this grammar.
The Bases of ～しめる: Traditional vs. Contemporary
When conjugating with ～しめる, it connects to the original 未然形 of all verbs and adjectives. Additionally, as alluded to above, you must know two sets of bases for ～しめる, which are listed below.
Form Note: All bases that exhibit change between their traditional and contemporary forms are in bold.
As you can see, aside from the 未然形 and 連用形, all other bases have changed over time. Depending on the situation, you may still see the older forms used.
The Original 未然形 of Verbs & Adjectives
～しめる attaches both to verbs and adjectives alike, but in the same way time has changed its bases, there has been just enough change to the 未然形 of conjugating parts of speech that warrant looking at all of their original 未然形 to properly use ～しめる.
|五段動詞||∅-a-||書か⁻ (to write)|
|サ変||せ⁻||せ⁻ (to do)|
|カ変||こ⁻||来⁻ (to come)|
|ク形容詞||から⁻||寒から⁻ (to be cold)|
| 美しから⁻ (to be beautiful)|
凄まじから⁻ (to be fierce)
|ナリ形容動詞||なら⁻||可能なら⁻ (to be possible)|
|タリ形容動詞||たら⁻||窈窕たら⁻ (to be graceful)|
1. Nothing irregular is amidst for 五段動詞. You attach ～しめる to these verbs the same way you would ～させる and ～せる.
2. せしめる is still very productive, but its meaning will differ depending on whether it is used in isolation or as part of a suru-verb, most notably those composed of Sino-Japanese words. In the former case, せしめる means “to cheat someone out of,” and in the latter case it is fully synonymous with させる.
3. 来しめる, although technically possible, is effectively not used in Modern Japanese. Only its predecessor 来しむ is productive (in much older writing).
4. Classical Japanese, in contrast to the two classes in Modern Japanese, had four classes of adjectives. ク形容詞 and シク形容詞 equate to modern 形容詞, the difference between them being that the former end in -い and the latter end -しい・じい in Modern Japanese. ナリ形容動詞 equate to all adjectives that utilize な in Modern Japanese. As for the タリ形容動詞 class, they’ll be touched on later in this lesson.
I/we would make the people starve and die.
Grammar Note: The ～ん is the older form of the volitional ～よう which is used here to show supposition.
If (they) had let him grab hold of power, he would have also done quite interesting works.
Grammar Note: The conditional use of ば traditional goes after the 未然形, which is why it is attached to the 未然形 of ～しめる in this sentence.
We must let the whole world know of his evil deeds.
Hideyoshi intended to conquer Ming China, and he attempted having Korea show the way.
Let’s have the whole world know about the awesomeness of Japanese.
Our country caused great pain and damage to many countries, particularly to all peoples of Asia, by colonial rule and invasion, driving citizens to a state of life and death crisis by mistaking national policy and walking down a road of war in the not so distant past. To rid such mistakes in the future, I humbly accept these irrefutable facts of history, express here again sincere remorse and my heartfelt apology. Again, please accept my sincere and deep condolences to all victims this history brought both home and abroad.
Oh Satan, who leads the masses into Hell, have pity on the suffering of mankind.
Grammar Note: 思うて is an older/dialectal variant of 思って showing a sound change phenomenon called ウ音便, which has affected West Japanese dialects most heavily.
Togama Kono is the one who caused Shinpei Eto to yell, “have you forgotten my favor?”
That is what made development possible.
It was decided that I was to receive punishment in front of all students of the school as an example.
Vocabulary Note: 見せしめ is a very common phrase.
The appearance of the geisha makes us delighted.
This should satisfy what you seek.
To allow for revolution to succeed.
Having the citizens know the law is the essence of a constitutional state.
Takamori Saigo, through the restoration, in any case, was able to achieve just the basics of establishing citizenry.
He claims that the main factor causing the change in climate is not the greenhouse effect.
His assassination led to letting the world know wide and far of that fact.
Societal collapse is caused by mankind itself.
Vocabulary Note: 然る is an archaic verb equivalent to そうする.
This is surely a work that will strike terror into the heart of the reader.
"He has shown great excellence in the I.Q test. In his assessments carried out in general knowledge, numeric ability, logical choice, official text, loading artillery, syntax, and defining, he completely meets the standard marks on all accounts.
There is no mistake in his memory about his own record, and just as the exam testing his ability to learn new things displays, he got a perfect score on the antonym test and even completely resuscitated (the information) on the unrelated antonym test, which is to say that he is indeed superb.
Thereupon, no handicaps can be found in his memory or ability to learn new things, and so [we] testify that he does not possess a mental element that would degrade his memory...."
From 散りぬるを by 川端康成.
Consequently now, by saying that the status of women is low, when you bring down the status of men to be on par with them, then the power of men and women ought to be equal. Or, you could have women be where they’re at and have men’s status be one rank below, which then women’s rights would be especially high. This is precisely the reasoning as to why I have directed by point of the argument with my target being the individual man.
From 男子論 by 福沢諭吉.
Grammar Note: The particle ば seen connected to the 已然形 of ～しめる does not mean “if.” The speaker is instead stating in a matter of fact tone that when those actions occur that the outcomes are to be expected—general rule. There is also a nuance of causation behind this, which is why ～しめれば often preserves this original nuance of ば.
To what degree should you decrease the patient’s blood clotting function?
Grammar Note: In this sentence, the particle ば ought to be interpreted as the conditional ば, in contrast to the instances in Ex. 14.
If you ask me, heterosexuality and homosexuality are clearly natural.
If you ask me, I think that plan isn’t a good idea.
Grammar Note: Opting to use ～をして言わしむれば instead of ～(に・をして)言わせれば is the writer’s choice. This alternative expression would rarely find its way in the spoken language, but it just might pop up in a blog post where someone is trying to make their opinion sound fancier. It’s also worth noting that some speakers may also say ～に言わせば, which utilizes the original conjugation for the conditional particle ば, but using ～に言わせれば is still most common by far.
My wish is for you to make the West tremble.
Have them exterminate every last one.
Frighten them all and cheat them of great sums of money.
～ならしめる & ～たらしめる
There were two primary copula verbs in Classical Japanese: なり and たり. なり is the ancestor of だ, and its role is to show existence/state. Therefore, it attaches to both nouns and adjectival nouns, bringing forth all the 形容動詞 of Modern Japanese. たり, on the other hand, is dynamic. It only attaches itself to nominal expressions, but the resulting expressions all function as adjectival nouns of their own type. For instance, both 男なり and 男たり are possible, but the latter is emphatic and captures the essence of what it means “to be a man.”
Both copula verbs can be paired with ～しめる in Modern Japanese. At times, you may even see them used in set phrases, especially proverbs. The resulting phrases ～ならしめる (=にさせる) and ～たらしめる (=とさせる) are still relatively common in literature.
To make the use of groundwater safe, one must think of various methods.
“Ignorant Masses Measures” are policies for keeping the people ignorant.
It made using it again impossible.
Okubo, during the shogunate period, to utilize the Satsuma Han as a force to overthrow the shogunate, approach Hisamitsu, the father of the domain, by using the game of go to curry his favor, and from there he was finally able to use Hisamitsu’s power to mobilize the Han.
From 翔ぶが如く by 司馬遼太郎.
That is exactly the thing which makes humans human.
After which how will the perpetrator exercise power to make his opponent a victim?
Let bygones be bygones.
Another usage of the ending ～しめる is being used as an honorific marker. This usage is not constructive in Modern Japanese in the sense that people no longer actively use this meaning. However, it lives on in Classical Japanese text as well as in the writings of people over the last few centuries. This usage arose in the Heian Period. This was a time in which nobles often didn’t do things by themselves and had others do their tasks for them, and by extension, even when they did do something, the use of causative grammar in a way exalted the doer.
From a grammatical standpoint, distinguishing this use from the causative meaning is a little tricky, but what you should look for are the particles being used. If you still have an indirect agent marked by either the particle に or をして, the sentence should be interpreted with the causative meaning. If, however, you only see a subject, then it is implied that ～しめる is only being used for its honorific meaning. Note that because this is older grammar, ～しめる is exclusively seen in its older form ～しむ and in its respective conjugations.
Another thing to note is that you’ll always see this use paired with the ending ～給う（たまふ）—pronounced as たもう—which is equivalent to お〇〇になる. In Classical Japanese, double 敬語 such as this was very much the norm. However, it is not to say that all instances of ～しめ給う are used in the honorific sense as this still must be determined by context with the help of particles.
When he stayed at the stable in Akashi, he saw the plight of the stable master’s own circumstances, and the poetry he wrote (of this) is very saddening.
From the tale 大鏡.
Vocabulary Note: 厩・馬屋・駅 are all ways to spell the word うまや・むまや meaning “stable/stage” in olden times. Before the invent of trains, the character 駅 referred to where people would stay along with their horses while traveling.
Leave everything to the Lord’s will.
37.「天は人の上に人を造らず人の下に人を造らず」と言えり。 されば天より人を生ずるには、万人は万人みな同じ位にして、 生まれながら貴賤上下の差別なく、 万物の霊たる身と心との働きをもって天地の間にあるよろずの物を資り、もって衣食住の用を達し、自由自在、 互いに人の妨げをなさずしておのおの安楽にこの世を渡らしめ給うの趣意なり。
It is said that, “heaven neither creates a man above another man nor a man beneath another man.” The intention of this is that as such, by heaven giving birth to mankind, all man is of equal rank; that we are not innately born with high and low statuses; that through the works of both mind and spirit of creation, we use the many things of this earth, moreover, to fulfill our necessities, uninhibited and without interfering others so that each may live a life of ease.
Line by 福沢諭吉.
That night, [the emperor] allowed for Lord Genji to set out for the minister’s home.
Grammar Note: させ給う・せ給う mean the same thing as しめ給う, and their distribution in older Japanese is determined by genre as mentioned earlier rather than by some semantic difference.
1. 君 is understood in this line as it’s original meaning of “master/sovereign.”
2. The word だいじん was likely not in the vocabulary of the writer as the story 源氏物語 is relatively void of Sino-Japanese vocabulary, thus which is why the word 大臣 is read as the equivalent native word おとど.
It would be unproductive of our extensive look into しめる if we did not look at all the other verbs that happen to also be しめる. These verbs are 占める, 締める, 絞める, 閉める, 染める, and 湿る.
Tourism accounts for over 30% of the country’s GDP.
Currently, the Republican Party controls over half of both the Senate and House.
Literally: Tighten the strings of your helmet after a victory.
Do not let your guard down after a victory.
When something valuable is due to arrive, make sure to lock the padlock.
I usually always have a tight grip on my wallet, but I just accidentally wasted money.
The company will also have to tighten its belt.
Vocabulary Note: In the Japanese iteration of "to tighten one's belt," the word for "loins"（褌）is used instead.
There are also times when it’s important to let loose rather than getting one’s act together.
Vocabulary Note: The noun 箍 literally means “hoop (of a barrel).”
I snapped the neck of a live duck.
A kid crying can’t be helped, but depending on the time of the day, shutting the window is a matter of etiquette.
Fukagawa-meshi is a (Japanese) soup dish served [as/in] a donburi (porcelain bowl) in which the meat removed from the shells of asari, hamaguri, and/or bakagai is boiled down thoroughly with vegetables cut up such as onions.
Vocabulary Note: Asari 浅蜊, hamaguri 蛤, and bakagai 馬鹿貝 are species of clams that Japanese speakers readily distinguish between.
Common Origin with ～しめる?
All these verbs involve exerting control over something--from tightening a tie to strangulation. Their original form しむ does most likely share the same etymology as the auxiliary verb ～しむ・しめる, making them not so miscellaneous after all! They also all share the same intonation, which is low-high-low.
Truly Miscellaneous しめる
Damp, warm air from the south heading toward the low pressure will be streaming in.
To demean the townspeople with malicious misinformation.