いうった?

One of the central themes of this blog is my lack of Japanese knowledge and how I’ve overcome it – how I’ve learned from mistakes, different study strategies I’ve used to improve, things I wish I had known. Well, I still have a lot of unanswered questions, so I thought that I’d let you guys help me write the post today. My question is about the verb 言う (いう, iu). Clearly it has the う sound in there, but it loses it when you conjugate 言う to the perfective tense – 言った (いった, itta). However, people do sometimes (not always) pronounce this いうった, adding that う back in. I remember hearing this for the first time in my third year of study – other students were using it, and I was never sure why. The teacher never said anything, so I wasn’t sure whether to imitate or not. I think I do say it sometimes.

Is it just to differentiate it from 行った and other homonyms? Is it a regional thing? Is it an old person thing?

If you know anything, put it in the comments. I’ll type up a summary and update this post later. よろしく!

P.S. Food for thought – it’s pretty clearly いって in the classic karaoke duet 3年目の浮気, although perhaps that’s because the extra syllable would throw off the rhythm?

16 thoughts on “いうった?

  1. I noticed this very early on in Japan and actually thought it a great help! Nevertheless, in speaking I tried to use the proper form just because, but nowadays I don’t think expect maybe if I was to give a formal speech I would ever not use this – in fact even in conjugating it into the present progressive tense, the ちゃう form and various other things.

    So I can assure you it isn’t an old person thing, but since we “come” from the same part of Japan then not sure about the regional thing.

  2. Ah, what do you know. That’s exactly what my dictionary says too:
    “ゆ•う【言う・云う・謂う】
    「い(言)う」の終止•連体形を「ユー」と発音するところから、「ゆ」が語幹と意識されてできた語形。終止•連体形以外で「ゆわない」「ゆった」などと言うこともあるが、本来の言い方ではない。”

  3. ah, that does make some sense. And its not like its unprecedented given 行く can also undergo a similar phonetic change from い to ゆ (please delete comment from other page!)

  4. Somebody from Osaka once told me it was Kansai-ben… I think it’s mostly just casual though. I was going to bring up 行く(ゆく) as well, which I hear more in song lyrics than anywhere else.

    I love using ゆった, it makes things so much clearer.

  5. Interesting topic!
    I was born and brought up in Tokyo Yamanote-area being surrounded by so-called the standard Japanese (標準語), and never heard いうった in my life. So I suppose it is a kind of dialect. On the other hand, I’m quite familiar with ゆった as a colloquial version of 言った. Tokyo people do use ゆった、but put the stress on the 2nd syllable (た) while Kansai people put it on the 1st.(ゆ). .. I think.

  6. I concur w/ the above comments that it sounds like ゆった – have always thought so personally.

    Also as mentioned, the parallel that sort of gives credence to this is 行く pronounced ゆく, which I thought was more of a 関東 thing myself… I can attest that you don’t hear it in 東北 as much – you will hear train platform announcements say stuff like ○○ゆきの列車が参ります on Tokyo platforms, where they will 100% say ○○いき in 東北.

    My guess as to where the ゆった roots come from is that long, long ago, there was no real あ行 and all mora had a starting consonant sound… would not have be surprised to find out that the original word was pronounced ゆふ or something, although Akaki’s comment above seems to contract this. Maybe ゐふ? Maybe I’ll look it up.

  7. Having lived in Fukushima, Nagoya and Kochi, I think I’m fairly safe in saying ゆった is fairly ubiquitous. I try to avoid it if possible though, simply because I’ve had problems in the past with going ultra 方言 and I think I have over compensated. In Fukushima I have even heard people use it in the ます form: ゆいました

  8. I’m pretty sure ゆき for 行き is used in Tokyo trains too.
    Also in song lyrics, and some special expressions like 過ぎ行く and 行方不明.
    This my dictionary doesn’t have anything specific on, but it seems that in case of 行く, it isn’t a recent corruption of the word like with 言う, but both いく and ゆく have existed for a longer time. And in fact, ゆく appears to have been the more popular one earlier.

  9. I’m just going off what I remember learning in a Japanese linguistics course about 10 years ago so bear with me here, but as I mentioned above, in the early days of Japanese (I forget the dates, but I’m talking like 古事記 and 万葉集 times or even before) the あ行 didn’t used to exist but actually came afterward in the evolution of the language. If you look at the oldest written Japanese, you won’t find it pronounced いく anywhere – it was ゆく all the time. This is where colloquialisms such as 行方(不明)/etc. find their roots. I’m not sure how the shift works for いう, but I know the old form was written 言ふ and not 言う. (PS: after checking, I found an entry in a 古語辞典 that says “ゆう” for the old reading and can also find entries for 言ふ, so I’m going to assume that this would go to ゆふ if you go back far enough)

    Linguists will tell you that if you go back far enough the 50音 table was actually complete, with a full わ行 and や行, and if you go back even further then there was no ん or あ行. This means that any word starting or ending with an あ行 mora originally started or ended with one of the わ行/や行 characters, possibly one that has fallen out of usage – you may have seen some vestiges of this with ゐ、ゑ、ヱ(ビス), etc.

  10. Hey everyone, thanks for the great comments! I’ve realized that I was mistakenly hearing (and saying) いう for ゆ all this time. Very interesting. I guess they aren’t too far apart if you blend my version.

    My friend Kaida on facebook also mentioned that the phenomenon is called 音便変化 – because the っ is so difficult to pronounce after い, it becomes ゆ.

    Going to type a summary of all this up and update the post. Will definitely mention something about 地方, because I think that’s related.

  11. Pingback: How to Japonese» Blog Archive » ゆった Recap