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A colleague is organizing an event and sent everyone an email beginning like this:

田中イベント担当の田中です。
イベントの前ふりをば。

... (explanation about the event)

The first line is a funny intro (the guy is known for joking all the time)

QUESTION: What does the イベントの前ふりをば part mean?

Is it another joke? Does it convey any information?

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Considering he is known for joking all the time, maybe this おば is in fact "オーバー" (over). –  fefe Dec 27 '11 at 17:02

4 Answers 4

up vote 12 down vote accepted

をば is basically the particles を + は combined together. It works like を but places extra emphasis on the object (in theory; in practice this "extra emphasis" might be diluted so that it basically just signals formal style).

So this sort of をば works like the を in "ご協力を!" (as a complete utterance) -- there is an action implied, but the actual verb is left unsaid. In the case of "ご協力を", if you were to add a verb it would be "お願いします" or similar, but in the case of this 前ふりをば it's the speaker announcing what they're about to do, so maybe させていただきます would be closer. (I'm not sure what specific verb would be most usual; in any case, the whole point of this construction is to avoid a specific verb.)

So イベントの前ふりをば basically means "Here's the setup for/information about(?) the event", except said using a certain pattern which originates in formal discourse but is now used as a sort of self-lampooning mock-formality. You can find lots of examples of this sort of thing by searching for ご検討をば, 情報をば etc. on Google.

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をば is a classical particular used for particularly strong emphasis. I'm guessing something like drum roll "And now, setting the stage for our Really Big Shoe, . . ." (edit) - On second thought, Ed Sullivan is maybe a little anachronistic for Classical Japanese. Maybe more like "Forsooth!" or whatnot. 笑

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Thanks! And should I understand 前ふり as "avant-première show"? –  Nicolas Raoul Aug 29 '11 at 1:55
    
More like prologue, intro, set-up; that sort of idea. –  rdb Aug 29 '11 at 2:34

前フリ is technical entertainment jargon for the sentences that are used to set up a joke. For example "hey, the other day, I met a guy at the kombini…" or "two guys of different religion are in a plane…"

イベントの前ふりをば would thus represent the necessary words prior to the event itself, so that everyone can enjoy it properly. I guess that "をば" is just a mistake or some hardcore simplification of "を語れば", "をすれば" or something like that.

sources: Chie and Chie.

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1  
Great info. 前ふり also means "setup" or "intro" more generally, like something the host of a TV show does to set the scene before tonight's guests perform, or whatever. –  Matt Aug 29 '11 at 3:05

Considering he is known for joking all the time, maybe be just used おば where it should be in fact オーバー (over), saying that "what I want to say before introducing the event" (まえふり) is "over". The "まえふり" here refers to his self introduction "田中イベント担当の田中です。"

This at least makes more sense to me.

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