〈12〉2-6 Discover the secrets of the ultimate irregular verbs!?

〈12〉  ◆ chap 2 " the Japanese Mystery Theater "               


           part 6. Discover the secrets of ultimate irregular verbs !?

               《 Mystery of be-verb "da" 



Now you've mastered most of the verb variants, including "-ru" type verbs. Compared to Spanish, which has 15 different past tenses alone and changes with the person, it's a piece of cake! Isn't it?

 

By the way, I said a long time ago, "All infinitive forms of Japanese verbs end in 'u'". Do you remember that?  And I also told you that there are two exceptions to this, right?  

 


                           We're about to reveal one of those exceptions.  

 

                                                    It's「だ」 "da" !   

 

             Yes, "Kore wa boku no okane da! (This is my money!), it is that "da".


                                                 

                                

                  (Japanese ex bill, 1.000yen〈about 10$〉,with the face of 夏目漱石、Soseki Natsume)

 

Actually, there is a theory that "da" is not really a verb, but we should not be too concerned about the details when learning Japanese. It's easier to understand if you think of it as a western be-verb.

 

So, this infinitive form of the be-verb "da" obviously ends with "a" instead of "u". It's very strange. Let's take a look at the inflected forms (conjugations) right away.

 


           ーーーーーーーーーーpositiveーーーーnegativeーーーーーー
informal
                  present     DA                      DEWA NAI                                                                                                               
                                               (・a)                           (・nai
                       past                 DATTA                    DEWA NAKATTA 
                                               (・tta                        (・nakatta                           
                                                
formal
                  present      DESU          DEWA ARIMASEN
                                               (・su                          (・arimasen
 
                       past                DESHITA                  DEWA ARIMASENDESHITA
                                               (・shita)                      (・arimasendeshita

           ーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーー

 

If you look closely at these forms, you can see that they not only end with "a" instead of "u", but also that the negative form of "da" is "dewanai", which is an extremely strange change.


 

                                               What the heck is this? 

 

         The reason for this is probably because the old inflected forms were as follows.


 

           ーーーーーーーーーーpositiveーーーーnegativeーーーーーー
informal
                  present    DE ARU                 DEWA NAI                                                                                                              
                                                   (・u)                          (・nai
                       past                DE  ATTA                   DEWA NAKATTA 
                                                   (・atta                    (・nakatta                          
                                                
formal
                  present      DE ARIMASU    DEWA ARIMASEN
                                                  (・arimasu                 (・arimasen
 
                       past                DE ARIMASHITA         DEWA ARIMASENDESHITA
                                                 (・arimashita)              (・arimasendeshita

           ーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーー

                                                    
                                   
                    (『吾輩は猫である』"Wagahai Wa Neko De Aru (I Am A Cat)")



Yes, as in Soseki Natsume's masterpiece "Wagahai Wa Neko De Aru (I Am A Cat)",                 

it de atta (I mean, it was, lol) "de aru" instead of "da", and "de atta" instead of "datta".

 


If so, then the infinitive form of that be-verb would have ended with a "u", as it regularly does. But for some reason, only the affirmative form of the verb changed to "da" or "datta". 

 

Perhaps, the reason for this is that "de aru" sounds a bit arrogant and judgmental.     

 

However, "de aru" is still in use today, and there are some cases where it cannot be grammatically changed to "da", so remember the inflections of "de aru" too.

 


                                                            Now, 

 

                                    What does "de aru" or "de atta" mean? 

 


As you know, "aru" is a verb that means "to exist. In other words, "〈de〉aru" means "〈de〉exists",  and "〈de〉atta" means "〈de〉existed".  Also, "〈de〉wa nai" means "〈de〉does not exist'", and "dewa nakatta" means "〈de〉did not exist". 

 

                                          So, what does "de" mean then?   

 

                  Let's think of "de" as "it," and therefore "de aru" means "it exists".  


         

                                                If so, what is that "it"?

 


For instance, think of it as "matching" or "identity". If so, "A wa B de aru" means "A and B are mutually matching" or "There is an identity between A and B". In other words, "A and B are the same! 

                                                 

                                

                                                          ( A=B ? )

 

"Watashi wa nihonjin desu" should mean "I and Japanese are the same", and "  'tomorrow' wa 〈ashita〉 de aru" should mean "There is an identity between the English word 'tomorrow' and the Japanese word 〈ashita〉.

 


This is just my own guess, but in any language, the be-verb seems to be the special verb describing that some objects are the same or very similar to each other.

 

By the way, when "de aru" is in the negative form, "wa (ha)" is added as "dewa(ha) nai".  And please remember that "wa (ha)" after the subject is used to emphasize the negative.   



              Now, at last, we are seeing what the ultimate irregular be-verb "da" is!

              

 

We'll talk about the other verb whose infinitive form does not end in "u" a little later.  Enjoy and think about what that is while you're away. 

 



          ーーーThe next post will be                             


            
                            <13> chap 2 "the Japanese Mystery Theater"

                             part 7. Is there a future tense in Japanese or not ?
                                                            

 

                    See you, soon !!
 

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