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What is the conceptual difference, or difference in nuance between these two constructions when used to mean 'and'? I realize there are some syntactic differences, such as や not appearing after the final item being enumerated, but as far as general nuance is concerned, is there any significant difference? For example, here's a couple sentences:

1a. 怪我やらインフルエンザやらで、試合に出られない選手が多い。

1b. 怪我インフルエンザで、試合に出られない選手が多い。

2a. 今日は会議やら新人研参会やらがあって無理。明日なら大丈夫だけど。

2b. 今日は会議新人研参会があって無理。明日なら大丈夫だけど。

Is there any difference in meaning in these (or perhaps other) examples of usage?

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Is やら also a particle or a combination of two particles? I know や is definitely a particle. –  hippietrail Jul 12 '11 at 7:46

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

や is often taught as a non-exhaustive connective. When you say AやB, you mean that there may be a C, but you didn't mention it (for example, you could say "ロックのCDやジャズのCDを買いました" because maybe you bought doughnuts too (but who cares?); but you wouldn't say "部屋には男性や女性がいます" since there is not other choice.)

As far as I remember, やら expresses some kind of disorder in your listing. It is also non-exhaustive, but it puts emphasis on the variety of elements. You'd use it to say "hipsters, bums, rockstars and politicians, everyone wanted to go to my sweet 16."

Examples of usage will be found it the great google corpus :)

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Thanks! I wonder if I can compare it to 色々 and 様々 then, since those share a similar distinction. –  Zach Jul 10 '11 at 6:38
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Another important distinction between やら and や is that やら can be used with just one noun: 今日は引越しの準備やらで忙しかった。. This usage is much like とか, as Wim mentioned. –  Derek Schaab Jul 11 '11 at 20:26

や indicates that a connection exists between two or more nouns that form a list of items. The list is a partial list and the speaker can add items if the speaker wishes to. Close connection with と、も..も usage.

English probably : and .. and .. and such

やら connects nouns, adjectives and verbs in a partial list. The list used is somewhat confused or disorganized. Close connection to とか usage.

English probably : and .. and who knows what, and ... and stuff

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