1-2 Adjectives


1-2-1 Adjectives

1-2-1-1 Conjugation

Here is a table of conjugation of adjectives, using「高い」as an example.

Table 1 Conjugation of「高い」
Form Conjugation Accent
Predicate/Attributive たかい ●○○
Conjunctive たこう ○●○
Connective (て) たこうて(たこて) ○●○○(○●○)
たかかって ○●○○○
Past (Perfect) たかかった ○●○○○
Hypothetical たかかったら ○●○○○○
たかけりゃ ○●○○

Variations from the standard as follows:

  1. Conjunctive form inflection is「う」instead of「く」.
  2. Conjunctive (て) form can also be「たかかって」.
  3. Hypothetical form「たかければ」does not exist.

Variation 1. above is called「ウ-sound change」and is a commonly found phenomenon in Western Japanese dialects. Recently, there are more and more people who say「たかく」as in the standard dialect, but「たこう」is originally the Kyoto way of speaking.

This ウ-sound change occurs in the vowel of the stem word as shown below.

Table 2 ウ-sound change
Vowel Change Example
Stems ending in [a] [a-u]→[o:] 高い(たい)→高う(たう)
Stems ending in [i] [i-u]→[ju:] 欲しい(ほい)→欲しゅう(ほしゅう)
Stems ending in [u] [u-u]→[u:] 薄い(うすい)→薄う(うすう)
Stems ending in [e] [e-u]→[jo:] (No modern usage)
Stems ending in [o] [o-u]→[o:] 遅い(おそい)→遅う(おそう)

However,「美しゅう」「大きゅう」etc. appear to be often contracted in spoken language to「美しゅ」「大きゅ」(Vowel Contraction), or pronounced「しぃ」as in「美しぃ」and「大きぃ」(「ゆ」Monophthongalization).

Also, conjunctive form (adverbial use) of「ない」is normally「のう」, but as this is sometimes difficult to associate with the original idea of「なく」, it is often spoken as shown below.



The expression given in variation 2. above is not used in the standard dialect, but is sometimes used in Kyoto.

Most Kyoto people may not even realize that variation 3. exists. Even when it is pointed out, some do not realize it, while others feel that「ければ」expressions such as「高ければ」and「良ければ」sound too stiff and formal, so it is not used in daily language. It is probably acceptable in written styles.

The hypothetical forms「たかかったら」and「たかけりゃ(somewhat old-styled)」are the norm.

1-2-1-2 Special Rules: Interjections

When expressing sentiments that suddenly boil up from inside, standard and Tokyo dialects use the adjectives as they are, but in Kyo-kotoba the inflection is dropped from the word (i.e. the adjective stem).

Table 3 Interjections
Kyo-kotobaStandardTokyo Dialect
Hurting one's finger いた! いたい! いて!
Unconsciously touching ice つめた! つめたい! つめて!

In these situations, interjections「あぁ」or「おぉ」etc. come before the adjective.「ああしんど」and「おおさむ」etc. are often used as well.

Furthermore, in Tokyo「うわっ」is often used, but in Kyoto「いやっ」is often used.



1-2-1-3 Polite Form

In Kyo-kotoba, polite form of adjectives is formed by attaching the verb「おす」to the conjunctive form, e.g.

However, it is unfortunate that as usage of「おす」is declining, so is the usage of the form「赤うおす」declining alongside it.

More information on「おす」:「10.丁寧語」.

1-2-1-4 Contractions

Especially in elementary/middle school age children, longer adjectives are sometimes contracted in speech.



As shown in the examples above, it appears that adjectives with negative meanings are easily contracted.

Though there are some adults who use such contractions, it is a way of speaking that would make one seem childish to the listener, so this usage is not particularly recommended.

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