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On the nature of "desu", "de" and "arimasu".

#1
First I must apologize the formatting of this post, I'm posting from my cellphone.

I was reviewing my Japanese basics and I was pondering on a topic that I have always pondered since I started learning Japanese, that is the semantic nature of desu, by "semantic nature" of desu I mean what is going on in the native speakers head when they use desu or at least what should be going on according to the internal logic of the language.

So let's take a simple example:

Kore wa hon de su.

As far as I know that "de" particle is the particle that indicates that the preceding word is the predicate complement, and su is arimasu. I don't know if nowadays native speakers have lost that distinction and regard desu as a single entity but etimologicaly as far as I know what we have here is the particle de and the verb arimasu.

Now the big question is, what is the actual meaning of that verb arimasu, is it the same arimasu that means "to exist in a place", such as "Koko wa hon ga arimasu". Or does arimasu have a different meaning when it follows de, having the meaning of the verb "to be" as the books preach?

Let's analyse the two possibilities, if arimasu means "to be" when used within the copula then when the native speakers say:

Kore wa hon de su. 
They are thinking: As for this, as a book it is.

That doesn't make much sense to me, but the second option, if arimasu means "to exist in a place", as usual:

Kore wa hon de su.
Then the native speakers would be thinking: As for this, as a book it exists.

It is really mind bending but makes more sense logically, at least for me. If that is true however that means that the Japanese language doesn't have the verb to be(w*** t** f***)!!!
Edited: 2018-01-11, 1:15 pm
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#2
.......
Edited: 2018-01-11, 2:28 pm
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#3
Hi, thanks for the reply, yes it is true that I've used a lot of romaji but I've also known hiragana since the beginnings of my Japanese studies(but not katakana yet for some reason) and I also know some kanji(though not much). The reason why I couldn't make the full breakthrough to use solely the native script yet is due to the fact that I've had many huge hiatus throughout my Japanese studies but I fully agree with you on the importance of learning the native script. 
With that said I wonder how that matters with the matter I brought up though since it isn't a matter of reading but of grammar and logic of the language.
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JapanesePod101
#4
I've never heard about です = で+あります, but I'd be curious to have more explanation on that.

I doubt that is what's happening in native speakers' head.
My view on this is the classical one. The verb 'to be' has two meanings:
#1. A = B (introduce an attribute about something)
ex: The fish is blue. I am John.

#2. To exist
ex: The fish is in the pond. I am here.

For the first meaning, です is used, and あります for the second one.
'Kore wa hon desu' doesn't mean that a book exist. It means A = B. Kore = Hon. (in that case the topic is also the subject for us, westerners)
Why would japaneses need something ambiguous as the verb 'to be'? They have です and あります to express two distinct meanings.
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#5
The definition of です as で+あります is not my invention but something I`ve read from many authors, some say it`s で+ございます instead. If you think about it we have:

これは本ではありません。or これは本でありません。(a native speaker friend of mine said that は makes the sentence polite). 

As for the verb "to be" I agree with you with what you said, however the second meaning of the verb to be, at least in my understanding, is not "to exist", but "to exist either in a place or in a specific state." The verb "to exist" when spoken broadly means something akin to "to be real", the way I see it.

So "The fish is in the pond." Means the fish exists in a specific place(the pond). "I am cold." means "I exist in a specific state(the state of being cold).

In some languages such as Portuguese the second meaning of the verb "to be " is a verb of its own(estar) and it is different from the verb "to exist".

As for the Japanese, the way I see it あります can have both meanings, for example:

本があります。 A book exists(it exists somewhere, it is real). Broad meaning of the verb to exist.

Or

ここは本があります。 The book exists here(it exists in this place). The book is here.

So if my Japanese is correct あります can have both the secong meaning of the verb to be and the meaning of the verb to exist. But so far we haven`t seen the first meaning of the verb to be(=) yet.

And that is the reason of my post, where does the (=) meaning of the copula です come from? Does あります acquire the (=) meaning when around で? Or does Japanese have not the (=) meaning and must do a mental gymnastics by using the で  particle that marks the predicate complement?

So:

これは本です。As for this, it exists as a book. So "it exists as a book" would be a mental gymnastics to arrive at the meaning of "=".

All of this is theoretical and unneeded of course because we all know that です equals =, I was just curious about the internal logic of the language for curiosity sake.
Edited: 2018-01-11, 3:27 pm
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#6
So first up, "what is going on in the native speaker's head" has generally very little relation to the history of any particular grammar feature. (For instance no native English speaker saying "goodbye" does so with the original "God be with you" meaning in mind, even if they happen to know that bit of etymology trivia.) People learn their first languages as whole things, as they stand at whatever point in their gradual evolution, and they don't learn them as logical constructs.

That aside, this is what my source (Frellesvig's _History of the Japanese Language_) has to say about 'です'. He says it is (probably) derived from で候 'de sourou', which was in use as the polite copula in Late Middle Japanese, which in turn was because sourou was freely usable as the polite version of 'aru', and one plain form copula was 'de aru'. (Frellesvig analyses this 'de' as the 'copula gerund'; you can see that it's what's doing the work by looking at constructs like 'A wa B de, C wa D de aru' and so on.)

Japanese has for a very long time had the grammatical ideas of (a) a single-word copula distinct from the verb of existence (b) an existence verb 'aru' and ©  "analytic" variants of the copula based on taking some variant of the copula from (a) and adding 'aru'. These all go back to Old Japanese in the first written sources we have for it (700-800AD or so). The copula has varied a bit in what it sounded like (though you can trace its evolution over the years), but something has always performed that role. In OJ it was 'ni' or 'no' or 'to' (in the infinitive or if modifying a verb) or 'nite' (as a gerund; this later became 'de'). You could also use "analytic copula forms" by combining 'ni' or 'to' with 'aru'; thus 'ni aru', which tended to fuse into 'naru', and which may be familiar from later classical Japanese and its frequent use of 'nari'. The "analytic copula" is the same thing going on later with "de gozaru" and today with "de arimasu". It's often been used as a handy way of increasing the politeness level of a copula.

Not sure if that is useful; I think it indicates though that the answer to your "Does あります acquire the (=) meaning when around で?" question is "no, not really; あります has no real meaning here and is just providing a verb because we need one to end the sentence and to carry the politeness level. で is what is carrying the '=' meaning, and it is descended from a particle in Old Japanese that did the same thing back then."

(PS: いる on the other hand is a somewhat later development, deriving from a word that meant 'to sit down' in Old Japanese and wasn't used as a simple 'to be' existential verb until Late Middle Japanese (1200-1600AD).)
Edited: 2018-01-11, 5:25 pm
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#7
Sorry, I don't know anything about Portuguese.
I can only tell for the french definition of the verb 'to be'.
It is defined as 'to exist', as well as 'to have a reality' (i.e. being tangible, being real). As far as I know, we don't make a difference.
mmm...frankly speaking I don't see how the idea of existence in 本があります and ここは本があります are different here.
Just note that 本があります can also mean 'I have a book', that's the only difference I can think of.

As for です、であります、でございます I was always told to see them more like different entities, with different usages.
So I've never tried to look for any papers about the origin of です. That's why I asked about your inputs.
But seeing これは本です translated as 'it exists as a book' doesn't sound right to me.
As far as I know there is no equivalent of です in western language.
Things start to become wacky when you try to find perfect match between those two different worlds.
But as I said above, it doesn't mean your japanese is wrong, we might just have a different western definition of 'to exist'.
Sorry, I can't add anything insightful lol
Edited: 2018-01-11, 6:03 pm
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#8
(2018-01-11, 5:39 pm)pied2porc Wrote: As far as I know there is no equivalent of です in western language.
There is, it's just that English uses the same verb 'to be' for two jobs. "This is a book" uses 'to be' as a copula, it doesn't mean "This book exists" or "The book is here".

Wikipedia has a summary of how various languages handle this grammatical function -- there's a fair amount of variation.
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#9
Sorry not in topic but i have a problem whit some tatto i dont know what that means can somebody help me?
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#10
(2018-01-11, 5:17 pm)pm215 Wrote: で候 'de sourou'
It reminds me, my ex-gf gave me a manga called 磯部磯兵衛物語 (いそべいそべえものがたり) with extensive usage of で候, she told me it was the equivalent of です, but the connection between those two never came to mind here xD
Sounds so obvious now...gj on finding that one
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#11
(2018-01-11, 2:33 pm)Iuri_ Wrote: Hi, thanks for the reply, yes it is true that I've used a lot of romaji but I've also known hiragana since the beginnings of my Japanese studies(but not katakana yet for some reason) and I also know some kanji(though not much). The reason why I couldn't make the full breakthrough to use solely the native script yet is due to the fact that I've had many huge hiatus throughout my Japanese studies but I fully agree with you on the importance of learning the native script. 
With that said I wonder how that matters with the matter I brought up though since it isn't a matter of reading but of grammar and logic of the language.

You're correct:  it doesn't matter that you used romaji.  I can follow the grammar/logic points you raise just fine in romaji.
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#12
(2018-01-11, 11:31 pm)phil321 Wrote:
(2018-01-11, 2:33 pm)Iuri_ Wrote: Hi, thanks for the reply, yes it is true that I've used a lot of romaji but I've also known hiragana since the beginnings of my Japanese studies(but not katakana yet for some reason) and I also know some kanji(though not much). The reason why I couldn't make the full breakthrough to use solely the native script yet is due to the fact that I've had many huge hiatus throughout my Japanese studies but I fully agree with you on the importance of learning the native script. 
With that said I wonder how that matters with the matter I brought up though since it isn't a matter of reading but of grammar and logic of the language.

You're correct:  it doesn't matter that you used romaji.  I can follow the grammar/logic points you raise just fine in romaji.
Do you have a google alert for romaji?
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#13
(2018-01-11, 2:33 pm)Iuri_ Wrote: With that said I wonder how that matters with the matter I brought up

It doesn't...I figured that out after I read your post more carefully, and I removed my answer (without realizing that you were already in the process of replying to it). Sorry about that.
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#14
(2018-01-12, 1:57 am)cracky Wrote:
(2018-01-11, 11:31 pm)phil321 Wrote:
(2018-01-11, 2:33 pm)Iuri_ Wrote: Hi, thanks for the reply, yes it is true that I've used a lot of romaji but I've also known hiragana since the beginnings of my Japanese studies(but not katakana yet for some reason) and I also know some kanji(though not much). The reason why I couldn't make the full breakthrough to use solely the native script yet is due to the fact that I've had many huge hiatus throughout my Japanese studies but I fully agree with you on the importance of learning the native script. 
With that said I wonder how that matters with the matter I brought up though since it isn't a matter of reading but of grammar and logic of the language.

You're correct:  it doesn't matter that you used romaji.  I can follow the grammar/logic points you raise just fine in romaji.
Do you have a google alert for romaji?

I once told my native Japanese tutor that some people actually get angry if you use romaji in your studies...he frowned and said "who are these people?  Do they know Japanese?"  LOL!
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#15
@pm215, Thank you for the amazing reply!


Quote:So first up, "what is going on in the native speaker's head" has generally very little relation to the history of any particular grammar feature. (For instance no native English speaker saying "goodbye" does so with the original "God be with you" meaning in mind, even if they happen to know that bit of etymology trivia.) People learn their first languages as whole things, as they stand at whatever point in their gradual evolution, and they don't learn them as logical constructs.
You are absolutely right about that, however I believe that the internal logic is still there even if the natives are not aware of it, this is just speculation of course.

Frankly speaking I'm glad that it is attested that Japanese has always had the copula and native = meaning, my suggestions on the first post were so convoluted and mind bending that I am really glad that things are so much simple in reality.

So if I got it right we have で that is the copula that evolved from the old Japanese copula gerund nite, which is some sort of inflexion, so that means that only the gerund form has remained and not the infinitive form and the other forms( 'ni' or 'no' or 'to')
I know that native speakers learn things as a whole, so maybe nowadays です makes sense as a whole meaning =, but etymologically speaking, if I got it right, the "su" in desu is a shortened form of sourou which has never had any inherent meaning of =, just of politeness. That makes sense but where does である fits? As far as I know aru is not polite so why did they add it to で to make the analytic variant of the copula?

Also another question that comes to mind is the nature of だ, is it a shortened version of  である or just a different thing altogether?

Also, I know that you already answered this question, but just to make sure, is it remotelly possible that あります(and ある) when used in certain situations(such as in the case of であります) actually has the = meaning? So both で and あります would have the = meaning in the copula. This doesn`t seem to be entirely impossible to me, at least to my mind, the romance languages for example use double negatives all the time. 
The reason why I'm pondering this is that a lot of sources state that the verb aru means "to be" in those cases(where "to be" could only mean = and not "to exist"), so I think that those sources should not be entirely disregarded at least without some serious consideration. So the matter is not whether "de" means = or not but if "aru" can also mean = (and consequently "sourou" and the "su" in "desu").

@pied2porc,


Quote:mmm...frankly speaking I don't see how the idea of existence in 本があります and ここは本があります are different here.


I don't know if that distinction in those two Japanese sentences is correct either, but using English as an example if you think about it:

The dog is here.

The dog exists.

Those two sentences mean two different things, at least to me but I could be wrong since I'm no native speaker of English. In the first sentence we have the dog "existing", "being" in a place at a specific moment in time, and in the second sentence we have just the statement and awareness that a dog exists somewhere, it is real.
So what we have here is two distinct meanings and also distinct from the = meaning in:

This is a dog.

So even though these three different meanings are rendered in English by using two different verbs, they could be rendered by using three, such as in Portuguese(and also Spanish I believe).

@Stansfield123,


Quote:It doesn't...I figured that out after I read your post more carefully, and I removed my answer (without realizing that you were already in the process of replying to it). Sorry about that.

Haha, no problem, I do agree with you though on the importance of learning the native script for gaining any significant command of the language, and that is something I'm striving to work on. I'll always stand by my opinion though that romaji is a completely valid aproach for learning the basic grammar of the language and the first couple thousand words, after that kana and kanji are the way to go.


Quote:I once told my native Japanese tutor that some people actually get angry if you use romaji in your studies...he frowned and said "who are these people?  Do they know Japanese?"  LOL!


LOL, I also never got the hate against romaji, for me the most important thing when learning basic grammar is to focus in the structure of the language alone, and for that you have to be able to read, you can't parse the elements of the sentence properly if you can't read shit. Of course that eventually you'll be able to do that with kana and kanji, but it is so much faster and easier for the brain to just use a script that you're already used to, that way you only have to focus on what is being said/read and not in deciphering the sounds.
Edited: 2018-01-12, 9:12 am
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#16
mmm...ok, I think I might get it...
Would that be correct if I say:
#1.The dog is here ≠ There is a dog
#2.The dog exists = There is a dog
...does that make any sense? ._.
In #1 we don't focus on existence, we're just discribing a scene...so 'is' would act more like a copula;
#2 is about the existence of the dog...so the 'is' of 'there is a dog' would act more like the verb 'to exist'?
Is that what you meant?
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#17
I always thought it was just a contraction of the ~てあります form of the copula だ.
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#18
(2018-01-12, 9:08 am)Iuri_ Wrote:
Quote:So first up, "what is going on in the native speaker's head" has generally very little relation to the history of any particular grammar feature. (For instance no native English speaker saying "goodbye" does so with the original "God be with you" meaning in mind, even if they happen to know that bit of etymology trivia.) People learn their first languages as whole things, as they stand at whatever point in their gradual evolution, and they don't learn them as logical constructs.
You are absolutely right about that, however I believe that the internal logic is still there even if the natives are not aware of it, this is just speculation of course.
Languages clearly are full of regular patterns (like the way that they have patterns for regular verb inflection); but they're also full of irregularity and randomness (like the irregular verbs) and halfway-patterns-with-lots-of-exceptions (a Japanese example is the transitive-intransitive verb pairs; in that case I think that a previously regular productive pattern fossilised and left us with a fixed set of verbs, so you can still see the outlines of some of the old regularity we no longer have). As a learner it's good to look for patterns, but don't get too confused looking for patterns that just aren't always there...
Quote:Frankly speaking I'm glad that it is attested that Japanese has always had the copula and native = meaning, my suggestions on the first post were so convoluted and mind bending that I am really glad that things are so much simple in reality.
(Worth remembering that our knowledge only goes back about 1500 years, which in some ways is quite a short time for a language to evolve in.)
Quote:So if I got it right we have で that is the copula that evolved from the old Japanese copula gerund nite, which is some sort of inflexion, so that means that only the gerund form has remained and not the infinitive form and the other forms( 'ni' or 'no' or 'to')
I'm having some difficulty figuring out exactly how these things have evolved, but Frellesvig says "With the exception of the loss of 'tu' and the change of 'nite' -> 'de', they are all still in use today in NJ both as basic copula forms and as case particles". So they're still kicking around but not necessarily doing jobs you'd immediately recognise as the same thing. (I think some cases of 'no' and 'na' as nominalizers are what Frellesvig would view as the adnominal copula.)
Quote:I know that native speakers learn things as a whole, so maybe nowadays です makes sense as a whole meaning =, but etymologically speaking, if I got it right, the "su" in desu is a shortened form of sourou which has never had any inherent meaning of =, just of politeness. That makes sense but where does である fits? As far as I know aru is not polite so why did they add it to で to make the analytic variant of the copula?
I think the answer is just "this has always been a thing you can do". Frellesvig says the OJ copula forms were very limited and if you wanted an inflected form or something combined with tense and mood auxiliaries then you had to use the 'analytic' variant. So in some cases  you have free variation between different ways of saying the same thing, which might take on different nuances (in Japanese today you can say 'da' or 'de aru' and they mean the same thing but are used in different situations).
Quote:Also another question that comes to mind is the nature of だ, is it a shortened version of  である or just a different thing altogether?
Frellesvig thinks it's from 'de aru', yes, with the note that it was an Eastern dialect feature that got into the standard language in the Edo period and that if the standard language had purely derived from Kyoto/Kansai forms we might all be using 'ja' instead (from 'de aru' -> 'dyaru' -> 'dya' -> 'ja', rather than 'de aru' -> 'daru' -> 'da').
Quote:Also, I know that you already answered this question, but just to make sure, is it remotelly possible that あります(and ある) when used in certain situations(such as in the case of であります) actually has the = meaning? So both で and あります would have the = meaning in the copula. This doesn`t seem to be entirely impossible to me, at least to my mind, the romance languages for example use double negatives all the time. 
The reason why I'm pondering this is that a lot of sources state that the verb aru means "to be" in those cases(where "to be" could only mean = and not "to exist"), so I think that those sources should not be entirely disregarded at least without some serious consideration. So the matter is not whether "de" means = or not but if "aru" can also mean = (and consequently "sourou" and the "su" in "desu").
Firstly, I think that trying to chop up であります into two parts and assigning meaning to one part or the other is not a very fruitful line of thought -- the meaning is in the construct as a whole. Chopping 'desu' in two and trying to assign meaning to the syllables separately is definitely not going to go anywhere useful.

Secondly, a source telling you that aru means "to be" is attempting to explain the meaning of a word in Japanese using a word in English, which while generally useful is likely to turn out to have areas where the two words don't exactly line up. In those cases you should look directly at what the Japanese is doing, rather than trying to assign meaning by assuming that the English word is a perfect guide to the meaning of the Japanese word.
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#19
@pied2porc

First please consider that I'm talking from the perspective of a non-native speaker of English, with that said:

I'll use the reference of a language that I know that renders all of those distinctions into different verbs, Portuguese, I'll also relate them to their Latin parents and try to relate them to English. Please note that I don't know what these verbs actually originally meant in Latin, I'm just trowing Latin in here as a reference.

What we have here is four verbs in Portuguese, English render the meaning of those four verbs(or at least one of the possible meanings of the verbs) by using two verbs.

Portuguese-Latin



Ser-Esse

Estar-Stāre

Existir-Existere

Haver-Habēre




Quote:#1.The dog is here ≠ There is a dog
Yes

Quote:In #1 we don't focus on existence, we're just discribing a scene...so 'is' would act more like a copula;

Yes, it is neither = nor the verb "to exist", as you said we are describing a scene, a state. 

Quote:#2.The dog exists = There is a dog

Now this is a tricky one, although they both carry the meaning of "existence", at least to my mind they are still different. In the first sentence we have the verb "to exist", this is a completely abstract verb, it states a fact, plain and simple, however in the second sentence, although the verb "to be" does carry the meaning of "existence", at least to my mind it still refers to a place somewhere. This in Portuguese would be rendered by the verb "Haver", and in French, I believe, by some use of the verb "Avoir"(il y a) which has the same root as "Haver".

So:

"This is a dog." ->  = meaning

"The dog is here." -> describing a state

"The dog exists."  -> It is true that the dog exists, it is a fact.

"There is a dog. " -> A dog exists somewhere.


So the way I see it in the first two we have the verb "to be" acting as a copula( although I don't know if that's how traditional English grammars see it), in the third we have the verb "to exist" pure and simple and in the last we have the verb "to be" acting not as a copula but in the sense of a verb describing the existence of something somewhere.

@pm215,
Thanks again for the thoughtful reply, cleared up a lot of things.


Quote:Firstly, I think that trying to chop up であります into two parts and assigning meaning to one part or the other is not a very fruitful line of thought -- the meaning is in the construct as a whole. Chopping 'desu' in two and trying to assign meaning to the syllables separately is definitely not going to go anywhere useful.

Secondly, a source telling you that aru means "to be" is attempting to explain the meaning of a word in Japanese using a word in English, which while generally useful is likely to turn out to have areas where the two words don't exactly line up. In those cases you should look directly at what the Japanese is doing, rather than trying to assign meaning by assuming that the English word is a perfect guide to the meaning of the Japanese word.

I agree with you, however I'm more like trying to understand the etymological meaning of the parts of those expressions than trying to understand what the expressions mean in Modern Japanese.

I agree that to understand what they mean in Modern Japanese we shouldn't chop them, it is enough to know that both "desu" and "de arimasu" mean = . However etymologicaly speaking we can look further into the historical meaning of the parts.

But it is probably as you said, arimasu must have had other uses historically to be there other than assigning the = meaning.
Edited: 2018-01-12, 7:17 pm
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#20
(2018-01-12, 6:50 pm)pm215 Wrote: Frellesvig thinks it's from 'de aru', yes, with the note that it was an Eastern dialect feature that got into the standard language in the Edo period and that if the standard language had purely derived from Kyoto/Kansai forms we might all be using 'ja' instead (from 'de aru' -> 'dyaru' -> 'dya' -> 'ja', rather than 'de aru' -> 'daru' -> 'da').

So you're telling me that ~のじゃ moe characters could have been real!?
We need a course correction on this timeline! Right! NOW!
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#21
(2018-01-12, 11:04 pm)sholum Wrote:
(2018-01-12, 6:50 pm)pm215 Wrote: Frellesvig thinks it's from 'de aru', yes, with the note that it was an Eastern dialect feature that got into the standard language in the Edo period and that if the standard language had purely derived from Kyoto/Kansai forms we might all be using 'ja' instead (from 'de aru' -> 'dyaru' -> 'dya' -> 'ja', rather than 'de aru' -> 'daru' -> 'da').

So you're telling me that ~のじゃ moe characters could have been real!?
We need a course correction on this timeline! Right! NOW!

 I guess you could say they're already real in most of Western Japan Smile 
[Image: 608px-Ja_da_ya.png]

Hmm, I've always assumed that those casual copulas originated as contractions of では (or at least ではある) rather than である, but the latter theory also makes sense, especially considering that standard/Tokyo Japanese distinguishes between だ as a copula and じゃ as a contraction of では.
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#22
The じゃ copula comes from である too, not では. It used to be written ぢゃ, even. https://kobun.weblio.jp/content/%E3%81%A2%E3%82%83
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#23
(2018-01-13, 5:05 am)wareya Wrote: The じゃ copula comes from である too, not では. It used to be written ぢゃ, even. https://kobun.weblio.jp/content/%E3%81%A2%E3%82%83

I wasn't suggesting that it didn't, and I was aware of the older spelling (not that it matters here, since では also starts with a d-sound). In the last bit I was specifically referring to the modern non-copula use of ぢゃ/じゃ as a contraction of では (e.g. それじゃ無理ろう), which wouldn't normally be contrasted with the copula in modern dialects where ぢゃ/じゃ is the copula (and apparently also in those with や as the copula, if usages like 〜やないと are anything to go by).
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#24
Just stumbled across an interesting read on Japanese Stackexchange that addresses some of the things mentioned in this thread: https://japanese.stackexchange.com/quest...pula-verbs
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#25
(2018-01-11, 5:17 pm)pm215 Wrote: That aside, this is what my source (Frellesvig's _History of the Japanese Language_) has to say about 'です'.

Interesting comments!  Thanks!  I've ordered that book.  Would you happen to have any other recommendations?
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