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Even here in Osaka I don't hear it very often among anyone even remotely young, but where does this come from originally? Does anyone have a reference on hand?

If I myself had to guess from what I know of classical Japanese I would think it could be

(打ち消し)ぬ → (連用形)に + あり + たり → にありたり → にありた → なりた → なんだ

Thanks.

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Martin doesn't give an etymology, but he lists なんだ→なかった, なんだら→なかったら, なんだり→なかったり, and he adds early Meiji literary usages なんだれ(ど) and んだら→なんだら. –  snailboat Jul 26 at 11:15

1 Answer 1

According to a dictionary,

この語の成立については未詳。一説に「ぬあった」の転かともいう

source

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Figured as much; I've never been able to find anything definitive. I'll leave this open a bit longer and then hand the answer your way if nobody else can dig anything up. –  Brandon Aug 4 at 13:11

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