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It is often said that Newspapers use grammatical forms/ellipses not used elsewhere and, on the whole, these do not present a problem to read and understand. However the ellipses do not seem to be unique to Newspapers, in particular the dropping of the copular 「だ」 after nouns and "na-adjectives" and 「する」from "suru-verbs" at the end of sentences.

For example, 「だ」 appears to be dropped from the end of the following passage attributed to the 宮内庁HP:

皇室の一般公開で花見

関東地方で桜が見ごろを迎えた4月4日(金曜)から8日(火曜)までにかけて、皇居の中にある「乾通り」{いぬいどおり}が一般公開され、5日間で38万6050人が皇居での花見を楽しんだ。

この特別公開は、天皇陛下が昨年12月23日に80歳の傘寿を迎えられた記念として実施されたもの。・・・

Reference: 中上級日本語、2014年5月版

I had concluded from the response to the following question that it was (probably) acceptable to drop 「する」and 「だ」in one's writing as long as one was consistent:

Does using the characters です at the end of a sentence make almost everything(depending on the sentence) sound polite?

But, is this true?....and when can one really use this style? Dropping these two words does not seem unique to newspapers (indeed, it seems to exist even in novels).

I also note that when I quoted the second "sentence" from the above passage in another question, there was comment that it was not a proper sentence. I am confused - when can I (indeed, when should I) use these "incomplete sentence" structures ?

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I've been aware of this kind of だ omission for a long time, but I think it might actually be an omission of である. It's especially common in “definition” or “record” style writing. だ is sometimes considered as an modal verb, which is too subjective and rude. I randomly picked an article in Wikipedia, count how many times だ is drooped. It's different from dropping だ in dialogues, which would sound very different to me. –  Yang Muye May 5 at 17:03
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@YangMuye: Your article is useful because it is not a newspaper report and sometimes the だ/である copula is dropped and sometimes it isn't. The answers below are useful but I wonder if someone could explain why/how when to drop it? Possibly just short sentences and certain nouns such as もの? –  Tim May 6 at 4:32
    
@YangMuye: Perhaps you write a partial answer using these examples to explain how you see this style is used? –  Tim May 6 at 8:20
    
@YangMuye: Sounds great. I look forward to reading them. Tx. –  Tim May 6 at 10:17

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I moved my original comments to this answer because it may contain some helpful information.

This is a collection of examples rather than a real answer, because I don't know when and how to omit da, either. I might add more examples when I found.


I think だ/である is extremely likely to be dropped in proverb-like phrases, parentheses, parallel structures, and definitions. It's also common in brief biographies, introductions.

Explaining when and why だ/である is dropped is beyond me. But I think it might because だ tends to be avoided because of its strong modal function (like よ, か, etc.) while である or です sounds verbose and dull. So people occasionally choose an unusual form to highlight some points, somewhat like 箇条書き, neat and forceful.

M‌aybe omission is more likely to happen in informative context rather than conversational context.

I remember some examples that are not academic or newspaper style (mainly because they are impressive.) Let's see how they meet those criteria.

執事、それは仕える者。執事、それは傅く者。執事、それは主の生活全てをサポートする、フォーマルな守護者。そう、これは一人の少女の為に命をかけて闘う少年の、超バトル‌​‌​コンバットストーリーなのである.

  1. proverb-like
  2. definition. Exactly the same as AはBである
  3. parallel structure. 執事、それは~者 are repeated three times
  4. parentheses. They serve as a kind of background. But only the last sentence is really important and relevant.
  5. introduction, as the last sentence says: this is a story about a 執事

恐怖こそ自由!君臨こそ解放!矛盾こそ真理!それがこの世界の真実だ!

  1. proverb-like
  2. definition
  3. parallel structure

外山恒一、36歳、反管理教育運動を出発点に、異端的極左活動家となり、今時、政治犯として2年投獄され、現在に至るも、反体制知識人。では続いて外山恒一さんの政見放送です。

  1. brief biographies
  2. introduction, as the last sentence says: this is a political broadcast by 外山

神戸市生まれ。78歳。超甘党。目下糖尿病で苦しんでいる。心臓はボロボロ。もう長くない。墓は不要。葬式はしない。9歳よりヴァイオリン、目下作曲の修行中。クロマティックハーモニカ演奏。アルトサックス入門。

  1. brief biographies. This is actually from a user profile

We can also find that last sentences end in different forms: だ, である and です.

I also found the following example in a paper.

首都ワシントンの近郊を襲う無差別銃撃事件。犯人は高性能のライフルを使用。離れた場所から正確な射撃を繰り返し,罪のない人々を次々に殺害。今月2日から10日足らずで‌​犠牲者は8人目なった。現場からは『警察へ 私は神様だ』と書かれたタロット・カードも見つかり,捜査当局は犯人像を解明する手がかりにしているが,依然として犯人の目星は‌​ついていない。

The paper explains this usage as “放送でも緊迫感を狙って体言止めを使う”. I think it might be similar to what I said“neat and forceful”.

I used to think that dropping da in a user profile, the first paragraph of a biography or an article of encyclopedia was nearly standard. Apparently, not everyone agrees. I found a discussion on Wikipedia that some people find dropping da (体言止め) in definition sentences (定義文) or introduction sentences (導入文) of the first paragraph (冒頭段) uncomfortable (気持ち悪い)

定義文を体言止めにするおかしな現象が非常に目につくのですが、このようなことが起きているのはなぜでしょうか? 定義文を、キチンと述語を書かずに体言止めにしましょうというようなことが推奨されているのですか? 気持ち悪いですね。なぜ「~は××である。」と書けないのでしょうか?--PeachLover- ももがすき。 2007年8月10日 (金) 14:36 (UTC)

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All answers are useful. This contains a lot of additional research into the subject. –  Tim May 7 at 22:32

In a nutshell, you should not use it unless you are trying to create a specific effect.

These grammars originally developed in artistic writing to add an artistic effect. Allegedly, newspapers adopted them to save space, and also because they make the sentences more compact and let the facts stand out more. Apart from news paper articles, it's also used where compact description is beneficial e.g. operation manuals, dictionaries etc.

Overusing these are considered poor writing.

Kazuo Tatsuo, a journalist and essayist for example writes:

歯切れのいい文章にしたい、という理由もあるのでしょう。体言止めを使うといかにも新聞記事らしくなるから、という人もいるでしょう。たしかに、体言止めを上手に使うことで、独特の味をだした新聞記事があることは認めます。ですから体言止め、助詞止めをいっさい使うなというつもりはありません。乱用はいかがなものかといっているのです。

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Thank you. At the risk of asking ignorant question, who is Kazuo Tatsuo? I can see that he does not think it is a very good idea to use this style but Without his kanji I cannot google him (or tell which is his 名字). –  Tim May 6 at 2:59
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BTW, here is my attempt at translating of the quotation, for anyone who can't understand it: "Some people probably use it because they think it will make their writing be more pointed. I'm sure there are also some who think that using taigen-dome leads to a distinctly newspaper-like feeling. I admit that indeed, there are newspapers articles which have skillfully used taigen-dome to exhibit a unique flavor. Thus, I am not saying that one should not use taigen-dome or joshi-dome at all, but simply that I worry about its overusage." –  Darius Jahandarie May 6 at 4:04
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@Tim: it's this guy: ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E8%BE%B0%E6%BF%83%E5%92%8C%E7%94%B7 but generally a lot of people share this opinion, even in the newspaper industry. –  Enno Shioji May 6 at 6:39

Dropping だ

This can be done in two circumstances:

  • In speech, when trying to soften a sentence as opposed to the version with だ (say, if you are female).

  • In a newspaper (or report, etc.), where it's actually an omission of である, not だ; i.e., when you are trying to be brief, pointed, and authoritative.

Naturally, you can differentiate between the two via. tone and surrounding word choice.

Dropping する

This is only done in newspapers/reports/etc.

When to use the "newspaper style"

Namely, dropping both 「である」 AND 「する」.

I mainly refer to Enno Shioji's answer for this, but basically, I don't see any reason for the average speaker to use it ever. It's only needed in specific contexts, where you can just look at surrounding media in that context and imitate the style.

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@Daruius Jahandarie: Thank you for your answer. Are you sure a newspaper is omitting であるnot だ? The Dictionary of Intermediate Jpse Grammar says the omission is だ and gives examples from the Nikkei. (I thought である was used in reports, academic papers. magazine (& possibly newspaper?) essays but not straight forward news reports). –  Tim May 6 at 3:09
    
@Tim Well, I actually don't think it's an "omission" at all, it's just a different form (namely, that which has no surface form), and I think the closest form to it is である, but だ isn't too far away anyways. I suppose for newspapers you could interpret it either way. –  Darius Jahandarie May 6 at 3:49

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