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I know Google hits aren't necessarily reliable, but I nonetheless searched for the following two forms:

The numbers are much further apart if I search for the -い form:

As I understand it, 暖かった is considered prescriptively incorrect because it looks like the past form of the non-existent adjective ×あたたい. However, if this form has really become more common than 暖かかった, then I suppose it's an acceptable form. Unfortunately, I can't base that conclusion on Google hits alone, so I decided to ask here. My guess is that it's easier to say あたたかった than あたたかかった, so one of the かs gets dropped.

If you can drop the か, I'm curious whether you can contract あたた to あった at the same time, as in option four below:

  1. あたたかかった - 約 122,000 件
  2. あたたかった - 約 211,000 件
  3. あったかかった - 約 395,000 件
  4. あったかった - 約 376,000 件

Are all four of these forms in common usage? Are some of them considered non-standard or colloquial?

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Riposte: what do you consider an authority for Japanese standard language, e.g. which dictionaries are governmentally sanctioned? – Jens Jensen Apr 14 '13 at 17:08
@JensJensen I wasn't aware that any dictionaries were governmentally sanctioned. I was using the word "standard" in the linguistics sense of "standard language". – snailplane Apr 14 '13 at 17:31
Indeed Japanese wikipedia writes on 標準語: 現在の日本には標準語を定義・規定する団体や法律が存在しない. Since disambiguation is not the problem, we must pick our favorite dictionary and go by it. – Jens Jensen Apr 14 '13 at 17:58
@snailplane: Thanks, you had me second-guessing myself on how to conjugate adjectives for like 5 minutes. – istrasci Apr 14 '13 at 20:31
Maybe you should check 暖い vs 暖かい as well. People might write 暖かった and mean あたたかかった. In fact ejje.weblio.jp/content/%E6%9A%96%E3%81%84 mentions 暖い as an alternative for 暖かい. Now the question of how many people say あったかった or あたたかった, that might be harder to check. – dainichi Apr 15 '13 at 0:33
up vote 9 down vote accepted

There's no such word as あたたかった/あったかった at least in standard Japanese...^^ You'd surely be corrected if you wrote あたたかった in your essay or written test in primary school. You wouldn't find あったかった in children's books, too. I believe it's just a typo and doubt people (who speak Kanto or Kansai dialect at least) really use it in normal or casual conversations.

あたたかった appears in the song 「君に逢いたくて」by Gackt, but many people have pointed out that it's wrong Japanese, for example here, here and here.

It seems pretty hard for young children to pronounce あたたかかった/あったかかった, especially the たた and かか parts, so I think they tend to pronounce it as あたたかった/あったかった. I don't know if the あたたかった/あったかった used online is new internet slang, and I suspect some of its writers might be imitating children's speech, trying to sound childlike or cute.

As for [暖]{あたた}かい/[暖]{あたた}かかった or [暖]{あたたか}い/[暖]{あたたか}かった, I normally use the former because I was taught to write it that way and also because I've seen it written that way more often. Maybe the latter is more used by older people...^^

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