ゆった Recap

Apologies for the delay with this post. I meant to put up a summary of the comments on this post earlier but have been really busy the past two weeks.

Well, I should start by admitting my mistake. What I was hearing was ゆった, as many of you mentioned, and not いうった – no one says it with the extra syllable. Facebook friend Kaida noted that い and う are difficult to pronounce together, so they blend to the simpler and more “pleasant” ゆう. This is a phenomenon known as 音便 (おんびん) – in English, euphony or phonaesthetics.

Wikipedia lists four different types of 音便 – イ音便, ウ音便, 撥音便 (はつおんびん), and 促音便 (そくおんびん).

The first two are relatively straightforward – a character changes to い or う. Some cool examples:

「日向」 ヒムカ → ヒウガ → ヒューガ
I had a student named Hyuga, so I thought this one was cool. It’s also an area down in Kyushu.

「白-人」 シロヒト → シロウト → シロート 「素人」
This is totally self-applied.

「埼玉」 サキタマ → サイタマ
I’ve never been to Saitama or Sakitama.

撥音便 is when a character changes to ん:

「読み-て」 ヨミテ → ヨンデ 「読んで」
So clearly the language has evolved.

And 促音便 is the origin of the っ in many verbs:

「言ひ-て」 イヒテ → イッテ 「言って」
Getting closer to what we are interested in…

I don’t see how いう→ゆう falls into any of those categories (there are no y音便), so it must be a less rule-based phenomenon. Akaaki found this explanation in his dictionary:


So it isn’t formal 音便 per se, but it amounts to 音便. People registered いう as ユー, and it leaked over to other forms of the verb.

There’s a really interesting thread on 2ch where you can watch a bunch of locals fight it out. It includes this passage:

/ifa-/ /ifi-/ /ifu/ /ifu/ /ife-/ /ife/
と,語幹 /if-/ がはっきりしていたが,後の音韻的な変化によって,
/iwa-,io-/ /ii-,iQ/ /yuu/ /yuu/ /ie-/ /ie/
となり,語幹が /i-/ なのか /yu-/ なのかわからなくなった.
基本型 /yuu/ の形に近い /yu-/ を新たに語幹として,
/yuwa-,yuo-/ /yui-,yuQ-/ /yuu/ /yuu/ /yue-/ /yue/

Which is similar to the research that Doug Durgee dug up. Back in Princess Mononoke times, there were like 100 times more sounds in the Japanese language. Then they all got drunk and before they realized it they were talking like おっさん (best part is last two seconds).

As for 行く, it was definitely ゆく before いく. I don’t think it gets used as ゆった, so I’m still convinced that 言った→ゆった also helps distinguish between the two (although that may not be a causal reason it originated). ゆく definitely harks back to more 渋い times:


In the end, I think ゆう・ゆった・ゆわない is used pretty much all over Japan, perhaps at higher rates in the 地方. The best thing about this post is that it will force me, and hopefully some of you, to be a little more aware of how people are using it and who those people are. If you make any discoveries, definitely post them here. I’ll do the same. Until then, feel free to use either version yourself. Just be careful not to over-音便. We don’t want to end up saying things like “finky.”

Free Tourism – The Tokyo International Forum

Japan is an expensive country, and Tokyo is an especially expensive city. It costs a lot of money to do just about anything here with very few exceptions. One of these exceptions is the Tokyo International Forum. My college roommate Dave came to visit Tokyo three years ago, and he brought a hipster guidebook with him that had glossy photos of architectural highlights, choice restaurants, and famous sites. When I met up with him he told me, “Basically I want to take pictures of awesome buildings.” One of the buildings that had piqued his interest was the Tokyo International Forum, which I hadn’t heard of but was able to locate relatively quickly on a map.

It’s right outside of Yurakucho Station and only a 10 minute walk from Tokyo Station. I walked over with Dave not really expecting all that much, but when we entered the building I was stunned – here’s this tiny building barely wider than the set of train tracks it borders, and its glass, steel, and bone-white frame tower above you as you ride down the escalator. Although people are constantly flowing in and out of the rooms and auditoriums for conferences, concerts and exhibitions, access to the top floor is unrestricted, and it offers a frightening view into the depths of the building and mediocre views of the neighboring blocks.

In addition to the exhibitions inside the building, which can be enjoyed from the comfort of one of the many benches, there are often markets in the courtyard outside the Glass Building. The courtyard also offers free seating, shade in the summer, and some cool sculpture.

For those with a little cash on hand, there are a number of cafes in the immediate vicinity, or you can buy a can coffee at the convenience store and enjoy it on a bench while people watching.

One of my favorite nights out in Tokyo is dinner with the sarariiman hordes in Shimbashi, a walk through Ginza to see who’s out and about, and then a quick cut through the shopping area around Yurakucho Station to the Forum. At night the area is illuminated beautifully, and the restaurants around the courtyard are nice perches for cake, coffee, or beers.

Here’s my video introduction to the Forum:

Free Tourism – The Tokyo International Forum from Daniel Morales on Vimeo.

I’ll be on the lookout for free (or severely cheap) activities from tomorrow onward. What’s your favorite free thing to do in Tokyo?

Project Manager Lingo – 納期

The second most important project manager word is 納期 (のうき). This shares the first character with 納品, but is in the order ADJECTIVE + NOUN, I think. I believe that you could draw out the compound to something like 納める期 or 納める期間, in which case the verb acts as an adjective. So literally “delivery period.”

The phrase I hear most often is 納期教えてください!

In my office, there are Japanese coordinators that receive translation requests directly from the client and then prepare estimates for the projects. In order to complete the estimate, they have to provide a 納期.

That’s where I come in. I take a look at the volume of the project and give the Japanese coordinator the 納期 – the number of business days it will take to complete a project. This includes the time it will take the translator to translate the material and the time it will take me to check and revise the translated text. I use the numbers discussed previously to come up with an estimated number of business days. The beautiful thing about 営業日 (えいぎょうび) is that they don’t include the weekend. Holy is the project that spans the weekend, for it giveth the translator extra days to work and therefore extra days to revise the document which in turn ensureth a more accurate and pleasant-reading translation.

When I get asked, 納期は? I usually answer with something like, 4、5営業日 depending on the volume. The client will take a look at the estimate the Japanese coordinator submits and then give the official go if everything is in order, at which point we determine the specific delivery date based on the 納期 we provided.