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これっ! 石を投げるんじゃあないっ!
すいちゃったものはしかたがないじゃあないのっ!

I've been reading a light novel called Slayers, and I noticed something interesting: the author usually writes じゃあない and not じゃない. I'm curious if there are any differences between the two. (I think it's clear that they have the same basic meaning, so I'm mainly asking about differences other than meaning, like style/formality/dialect.)

Not long ago, I read a post on sci.lang.japan by the linguist Bart Mathias, which I'd like to quote here. He describes the contraction from ては to ちゃ:

Because Japanese is length sensitive, it took time to get the two moras of "-te-wa" compressed from "-chaa" to "-cha," and the earlier form still survives as an option.

My guess is that the same thing happened with じゃ:

では → じゃあ → じゃ

That is to say, I guess that じゃあ is older than じゃ. If that's right, I also guess that the combination じゃあない is older than じゃない, and since I usually hear the shorter form, I'm guessing that じゃあない might sound a bit old-fashioned. I'm curious if this is correct, so I decided to ask here.

Anyway, here are my guesses about じゃあない:

  1. Perhaps じゃあない sounds like an older way of talking than じゃない.
  2. Perhaps じゃあない sounds a bit closer to ではない (making it slightly less informal than じゃない?)
  3. Perhaps じゃあない is a dialectal variation of じゃない.
  4. Perhaps the author just likes the sound of じゃあない, and there's no real difference.

So tell me, is there any difference between the two? Or are they totally the same?

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Here is a possibly similar use of the longer 〜あ sound with another author (who precedes the Slayers author)... it probably doesn't narrow down your guesses very much, but it's interesting to see another author doing a similar thing... ^^; –  summea Jun 10 '13 at 17:22
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@summea Thank you for your comment! I suppose to narrow it down, I'd want to figure out if じゃあない existed historically or not, but I'm not sure how to go about doing that... –  snailboat Jun 10 '13 at 17:37
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I managed to find this answer by Flaminius which says じゃあない sounds more macho: forum.wordreference.com/… –  snailboat Jun 10 '13 at 20:37
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aozora.gr.jp has some hits for じゃあない as well. –  nkjt Jun 10 '13 at 23:01
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2 Answers

It would be interesting/useful to know if the author uses じゃあ over じゃ・では in other phrases.

I might be completely off-base here, but if we consider the difference as that between では、じゃ and じゃあ (rather than between じゃない・じゃあない specifically), there is some info about, for example here.

Taking some parts of the first answer on that question which I think are important (ignoring the bits about では for the moment):

First example:

これじゃ間に合わない ・・・普通

これじゃー間に合わない ・・・強調した言い方

e.g. in this case the じゃあ version is for emphasis.

Second example:

この雨じゃ出かけられない ・・・普通

この雨じゃー出かけられない ・・・リズムを変えた言い方(人によって好き好きです。)

e.g. in this case it just changes the rhythm (and this is a matter of personal preference).

Third example:

中学生じゃ無理だ ・・・普通 中学生じゃー無理だ ・・・強調した言い方。あるいはリズムだけを変えた言い方

e.g in this case it could be either for emphasis or a change in rhythm. (This may be the same way that sometimes 二 is read にい in counting out loud, e.g. いちにいさん). It appears from additional information given in the linked answer that the difference between the two cases would be distinguished in speech by the position of the accent.

Incidentally, 大辞林{だいじりん} confirms the origin from では but isn't much help in terms of nuance:

「では」の転。「じゃ」とも

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Did you say, light növél? Kneelificate before its wordulence!

http://xkcd.com/483/

So I say, even consistent usage throughout one work does not make it not idiosyncratic. We need more samples!

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So you think the author invented 「じゃあない」? –  snailboat Jun 10 '13 at 17:10
    
By occams razor, I do. It's probably a bit of your answers 3 and 4 and having someone with that pronunciation in mind. –  Jens Jensen Jun 10 '13 at 18:58
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Razors are not always useful. By occam's razor, you could also say that the claim that "the author snailboat happened to mention was the the first to use じゃあない" is probably wrong by thinking "Some other person first used じゃあない" is simpler. –  jlptn1 Jun 11 '13 at 6:49
    
@jlptn1 I don't understand what you're getting at. Lenthening a vowel can happen very easily in a language. To me it's like a dog barking "wooof" instead of "woof"- probably the dog wants to express something, but its idiosyncratic until widely adopted. –  Jens Jensen Jun 11 '13 at 8:50
    
To be clearer, you said you think the author invented 「じゃあない」 because of occam's razor, and I'm saying you maybe shouldn't. –  jlptn1 Jun 11 '13 at 12:49
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