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Today, while looking up random words in WWWJDIC, I stumbled upon an example sentence for the word いとしい as below:

少女は人形をいとしげに抱き締めた。 The girl squeezed her doll affectionately.

The sentence uses ~げに adjective suffix that I have never seen before. Based from the above translation, it seems to convert the adjective into adverb, just like what ~く does. Also, a quick check with Google showed that can also follow a noun, e.g. 自慢げに.

What is this suffix actually and how is it different from ~く form? As I mentioned in previous paragraph this is the first time I've seen it so I am not even sure is it standard Japanese or a slang or whatnot.

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You are being somewhat contradictory. If it is conjugation, then it is an inflectional affix. But if it is converting an adjective into an adverb, then it is a derivational affix. Are you sure that 自慢 is a na-adjective? –  sawa Jul 7 '11 at 7:28
    
@sawa Sorry I'm not that well-versed in grammar terms. I have never seen the terms "inflectional affix" nor "derivational affix" before ... –  Lukman Jul 7 '11 at 7:30
    
You are referring to conjugation on the one hand, which means it's a particular ending of a certain word. On the other hand, you are mentioning converting a word (adjective) into another (adverb). That is contradictory. –  sawa Jul 7 '11 at 7:33
    
@sawa So conjugations do not change the class of the word? What should I call it then? 'Affix'? –  Lukman Jul 7 '11 at 7:35
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possible duplicate of What is the difference between ~げ and ~そう –  Tsuyoshi Ito Jul 7 '11 at 12:43

2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

The most important thing about げ is that it describes an observed quality. That is, you cannot use げ to refer to yourself:

○ 毎週楽し聴かせていただいています。 I enjoy listening every week.

× 毎週楽しげに聴かせていただいています。 (incorrect)

The reason for this is that げ (which in kanji would be 気, but it's never written in kanji) is defined as そうだ or らしいようす, according to Daijisen. (Daijirin also lists 気配 as a definition, and you can see my answer to this question about 気配 to get a sense for that word.) Since そう is for describing something based on observation, it would be odd to use it to describe something about yourself. But you can easily use it to describe someone else:

○ 少女はうれしげにプレゼントをあけた。 The girl happily opened the present.

○ 少女はうれしそうにプレゼントをあけた。 (equivalent)

Why not just use the normal adverbial form of うれしい (うれしく) here? Because うれしく would presume that you have accurate knowledge of someone else's emotional state, which you don't (unless you're writing a book and talking about one of your characters). All you have are observations, and so you have to show that your judgment of うれしい comes from observation by using either そう or げ.

Although you could technically use げ with any word fit for describing behavior, not every such construction is common. For instance:

○ みんなはケーキをおいしそうに食べている。 Everyone looks like they're enjoying the cake.

?みんなはケーキをおいしげに食べている。 (same meaning, but far less common)

When you can freely substitute げ for そう (as with the うれしい example above), I don't personally feel any difference in emphasis, but a native speaker or someone with a solid reference on this may weigh in with a different opinion.

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This answer is very good. If you are wondering for the difference between and そう, there may be a slight difference in that, with , in some cases it may be implied that the person acted as such (so the girl was observed not to be really happy but is forcing herself to look so). –  sawa Jul 7 '11 at 13:32
    
@sawa: Thank you for that comment. I was not aware of that connotation. –  Derek Schaab Jul 7 '11 at 14:01

Adjectives

Does such conjugation exist (or is it actually something else)?

It's a way to make an adverb from a い-adjective

And if so, how is it different from ~く form?

Unlike 〜く, it is very empathetic, it shows that the subject of the proposition visibly expresses its emotions. You can almost see that girl's eyes being humidified by that extraordinary amount of affection.

You emphasize the behaviour of the acting subject, instead of just coldly modifying the verb.

楽しく踊った。
I danced and enjoyed it.

楽しげに踊った。
I danced, and I was sooooo happy! I kept jumping, twirling and bouncing! Oh man! That was so much fun! You should've seen me!

Nouns

First, what kind of nouns?
I doubt one says "車げに".
However, "自慢げに" is different, as 自慢 is a state, a description… somehow, an adjective! When one says 自慢です one means "I'm satisfied". So 自慢げに would be "with visible satisfaction".

Easy as pie!

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How about 自慢げに: is it the same げに? If so then how universal is the suffix (can I put after a verb, particle etc)? btw, the second example sentence seems like tongue in cheek :P –  Lukman Jul 7 '11 at 7:53
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Your explanation is somewhat to the point, but I don't think your second example goes with that meaning. indicates that the manner in question is observed from some other person. 楽しく 'happily' vs. 楽しげに 'seemingly happily'. –  sawa Jul 7 '11 at 8:04
    
@lukman: let me edit a bit then. –  Axioplase Jul 7 '11 at 8:33
    
@sawa: that's why I had emphasized "you should've seen me". To convey the idea that this joy was visible. (I like my example to be extreme) –  Axioplase Jul 7 '11 at 8:34
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rintaun: Well, unless you give us a formal definition of adjective, you're not going to have an answer :) Also, I'm pretty sure you cannot use げに with な adjectives like 静か. So, I'd say "i-adj" and "state-related verbal nouns" (since one says 自慢する without need for "を"). Try to build sentences, and see which ones make sense. If you have a counter example, please share, I couldn't think of one. –  Axioplase Jul 7 '11 at 10:06

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