Interrogatives IV: Rare Words

第374課: Interrogatives IV: Rare Words

Interrogatives themselves are not so hard to understand or use. What you may not know is that there are even more less used interrogatives in Japan aside from the simple 誰, 何, いつ, どこ, and 何故.

Rare Interrogatives


     なんらか, also 何某なにがしか, means “any” or “some”. Both of these words are quantity words. So, they describe indefinite amounts. 何らか is the most common. 

1. 何某なにがしかのかね
      A certain sum of money

2. 何らかの影響えいきょうが出る。
    To have some effect come out.

3. あなたのもうし立てに何らかの根拠こんきょがありますか。
    Do you have any evidence for your statement?

4. 何らかのてん
    In some way or other

なにがし (某・何某) is a somewhat old-fashioned indefinite pronoun meaning “a certain”. It equates in meaning to the Sino-Japanese prefix 某 read as ぼう. 某‐ can be used after proper nouns, place and time words. It is very similar to ある・或る. ある can be used to refer to something when one has no certainty of the actual matter/thing. When one uses 某‐, though, one knows exactly what the subject (matter) is. You just think it is best not to say it. It also sometimes gives the impression one is hiding information, especially when you overuse it. It goes well with more stiff 書き言葉. However, there are exceptions.  

 ある国 → 某国 ある日 → 某日 あるところ → 某所 ある雑誌 → 某誌
 ある会社 → 某会社 ある先生 → 某教師 ある省 → 某省 ある月 → 某月
 あるテレビ局 → 某テレビ局 ある人 → 某氏 あるタレント → 某タレント ある高校 → 某高校

5. どこぞのなにがし
     A certain someone from somewhere

The ら in 何ら is the same as in 彼ら. So, this is essentially the plural form of what. It is used as a more emphatic way of saying なにも. It may be used adverbially and nominally. It is not as common as なにも.

6. 何ら不安ふあんはないよ。
      I have no fear.

7. 何らうたがいはない。
      I have no doubt.

8. 何らの利益もないよ。 
    There’s no profit/benefit whatsoever. 


 いずれ, an alternative to どれ, is best translated as either “either”, “both”, or “sooner or later”. These usages are distinguished easily from each other. If used as an adverb, it means, “sooner or later”. If used with a particle such as も, it’s like どれも to mean “either/both”. 

9. いずれ分かるよ。
    You’ll understand sooner or later!

10. いずれあらためてうかがいます。
      I will come again in the near future.

11. いずれおとらぬ (Set phrase)
      Equally competent 

Interrogative Note: Do not get the impression that these are all of the possible interrogatives in Japanese. You will discover more, though more likely rarer, interrogatives as you continue to study Japanese. The examples below are just to show you what more is out there. You don’t have to remember this stuff. 


いずくんぞ, formally and formerly as いづくんぞ, means どうして. The following characters have been used to write it, but only the last is ever seen today: 悪・安・寧・焉.

12. いませいを知らず、焉んぞ死を知らんや。
      How would you know death if you’ve yet to know life?

13. 孔子こうしが『未だ人につかうることあたわず、焉んぞに事えん。』とわく。
      Confucius said, “How could you possibly serve the divine well if you can’t even serve man well?”

14. 燕雀えんじゃく安んぞ鴻鵠こうこくこころざしを知らんや。 
      How is that sparrows and swallows have greater will power than large birds?

15. にわとりくに焉んぞ牛刀ぎゅうとうを用いん。
      You don’t need a butcher’s knife to kill a chicken.

16. 王候おうこう将相しょうしょう寧んぞしゅあらんや。
      Why would nobles and shogun have seeds? (Any person can achieve through effort and luck)

17. いずくんぞ知らん。(Very old-fashioned)
   How would you know?


18. こおいの問題の重大なることや、その解決かいけつ那邊なへんにあるかをさけんで、國民こくみんの注意を喚起かんきする先覺者せんかくしゃ奮發努力ふんぱつどりょくはなはのぞましい次第しだいであります。 
This is dependent on the much needed strenuous efforts of a pioneer who will alert the public’s attention and strongly ask what the most important thing to this problem is and where the solution is.

From 國語國字こくごこくじ問題 by 福永恭助ふくながきょうすけ.

Sentence Notes:

1. 那辺 is a rare interrogative equivalent to どこ・どの辺.

2. The example was written before simplification took place. Notice how many characters look different. 


如何 is sometimes read as いかん. This is a contraction of いかに. Both words are equivalent in meaning to どんなに. いかん is seen in formal situations, but its usage has continued to go down. いかに is used even less, but it survives in set phrases and in common usage in things like いかにも, which is used to show agreement in the same way as 全く and なるほど. 

19. 人間、いかに生くべきか。
      How should man live?

20. この件は如何致しましょうか。
      What should we do with this case?

Interesting Dialect Phrases

If we include dialectical interrogative phrases, the number of such phrases in Japanese goes up a lot. Some phrases are localized to very small areas, but they’re still interesting to look at. Below are phrases from 福島弁. Of these なして, also happens to be used in many other places in Japan. The rest are quite localized to the 東北 Region.

21. え、なして?
      Wait, why?

22. なして泣いてるの?
      Why are you crying? 

The following phrases and translations are taken from the Wikipedia page on Fukushima Dialect. 

  • なじょうだ、なじょした、なじょんした? → どうした、どんなだ (県)
    • なじょうする、なじょする、なじょんする?→どうする?
    • なじょんかして→どうにかして
    • なじょ、なじょう?(う、の部分を伸ばす感じで発音する)→ どう
    • なじょして、なじょんした?、なじょんして? → どうした?どうやって?
    • なじょな → どんな (北、中、南、会)
    • なじょうだが → どうだか (浜、北、南、会)
    • なじょったい → どうだかね (浜、北、中)
    • なじょーにしっぺい → どうしたらよかろう (北、中、南)
    • なじょーも → なんとも (会)