We have to try!

Puffer-fish lined up

(Boy, if you got that one, massive points. You win.)


“If it’s the case that if it tries to come out then it will be able to come, then it will come out, but it can’t come out, so it won’t come out. Even if it tries to go it can’t go, so it can’t go, so it won’t.”)


It ain’t comin’ out.


We begin with the verb 出る (deru), “to come out,” in volitional form, then again, in hypothetical potential form, then again in conjunctive form attached to the verb 来る (kuru) in sentence-final form, marking the end of the clause. This is followed by ばってん (batten), “but.”

Next comes 出る again, in volitional form followed by negative potential form, with けん (ken), “therefore,” separating it from the same verb for a sixth time, appearing for the second time in conjunctive form which again connects it to 来る, which appears here in negative form, followed by a second けん.

This is followed by the verb 来る in volitional form, negative potential form, then after another けん another, different, negative potential form, and then after another けん, again twice more, for emphasis presumably, in negative sentence-final form.


In some cases, the ば of the initial hypothetical formation is replaced by が (ga), apparently without any change in meaning, for no apparent reason.

This whole thing is in deep, thick, gooey, rich Nagasaki dialect, in which – among other things – 来る can also be used to mean its exact opposite 行く (iku), “to go.” Good luck telling apart your comings and your goings!

Today’s offering is probably inextricably linked to Nagasaki’s famous dragon dances, famously performed during the Kunchi festival, in which at least a dozen people team up to play a dragon chasing after its egg. The dragon, unfortunately, is famously sulky and will repeatedly give up the chase and curl into a ball, so that the audience is repeatedly called upon to yell at it until it acquiesces and resumes the chase/dance. Animal-rights organizations have thus far had no more luck in ending this subtropical equivalent to bear-baiting than they’ve had in ending the more infamous practice of whale-hunting. At any rate, sometimes the dragon just doesn’t want to come out, you know?

Happy April first, by the way. Look for an update tomorrow!

Example sentence:

About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
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1 Response to We have to try!

  1. Pingback: You want me to shave *what*? | landofnudotcom

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