November 10, 2008

A different kind of question mark, TO^ in Hakataben

The following pertains to the Japanese as spoken in the Hakata dialect of Fukuoka, Japan.

TO^ or tou is used as the ? or question mark sometimes in Japanese. Observe the way TO^ is used in the following sentences,

"DOKO NI IKIYORU TO^?" どこに往きよるとう - "Where are you going?(Where do you think you're going?)

also heard "DOKO NI IKIYO^ TO^" どこに往きようとう - same meaning, but in this example the verb iku is in Base II then adds + yoru to^

Doko kara kiyo^ to^?
どこから来ようとう - "Where does he come from?" or "Where do you come from?".

another variety of this construction that will mask the true traditional Japanese language, but there is a way to make these type of constructions polite. I've heard it covered up this way -

どこから来ようとうですか? - Where do you come from.

This way of phrasing the question, " Where do you come from?", appears and sounds polite so that it passes for polite Japanese. This is definitely not a good way to speak polite Japanese. The best way to speak it politely is to use honorific forms of the verb. Yes I know it is cumbersome to not only remember the rules for honorific verb forms but it is quite something also to pronounce them well. Especially for verbs with au ending such as arawareru. That there will be a tongue tie if ever there was one, for a gaijin that is.

Conclusion: Add DESU KA to anything makes to make your Japanese language more polite. Or at least it will sound that way.

This is not a short "TO". This is a TO with a "^" attached so it is long "o". Granted this is probably not at all a polite way to speak in Japanese, but is very congenial speech.