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This is another question that's come from a 昔話。

We have the following section:

大きい箱と小さい箱がありますが、どちらがいいですか。
どちらも結構じゃが、どうしてもと言うのなら、小さいほうでよかろう。

I'm having trouble with the second sentence. My translation is:

  • どちらも結構じゃが - Either one is fine. - Here, I think じゃ is a contraction of では and has the same effect as using です.
  • どうしてもと言うのなら - If you say I must - の seems like the explanation modality to me.
  • 小さいほうでよかろう - The little one would be better. - I'm guessing that ほうで is a less emphatic version of ほうが. Just going on context for よかろう meaning good.

What I'm really interested in is where よかろう came from. At first glance, it seemed like some crazy old volitional form (行こう!), but It seems kind of ridiculous for there to be a volitional form of an adjective. It really seems like it could be the adjectival form of だろう. (I read something that sounded similar to this that was the adjectival form of だろう, but cannot find the link again.)

  • What does よかろう mean?
  • Is it equivalent to いいだろう?
  • Is this just one of those old fashioned feeling Japanese grammatical forms?
  • Is there a case where I could actually put this to use (other than reading 昔話)?
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3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

よかろう is not so different from いいだろう. The crucial part is the same. And your concern about having a volitional form for an adjective is right, but is only half way. If you worry about the volitional form, then why do you not worry about the plain ending form, past form, etc. of adjectives? If you decompose the adjectives, you can observe that all these endings are actually verb endings. They merely look like adjective endings because they are contracted.

よかろう < yoku ar-ou
(possibility form ou attached to the verb ar)
'it is probably good'

い/よいだろう < i/yoi de ar-ou
(possibility form ou attached to the verb ar)
'it is probably good'

い/よいでしょう < i/yoi des-you
(possibility form (y)ou attached to the verb des)
'it is probably good' (polite)

よかろう is slightly old fashioned, but is still in use when you either want to be formal or authoritative.


じゃ in じゃが is not では but is the same as , which historically comes from である.

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I wasn't worried about there being a volitional form based on verb endings, but was rather worried about there being an adjectival form that expresses volition. Your examples (yoku ar-ou) seem very plausible. It seems like this is related to the volitional form. If that's the case, I really want to know how that happened. :) –  Nathan Ellenfield Sep 27 '11 at 5:51
2  
@NathanEllenfield If your native language is English, you can probably see a parallel with the auxiliary shall, which has both the volitional future and probability future meanings. –  user458 Sep 27 '11 at 5:55
3  
Judging by the combination of よかろう and じゃが, I'd say what we have here is a case of 役割語. –  Zhen Lin Sep 27 '11 at 10:52

What I'm really interested in is where よかろう came from. At first glance, it seemed like some crazy old volitional form (行こう!), but It seems kind of ridiculous for there to be a volitional form of an adjective.

Why ridiculous? い-adectives in Japanese have conjugations. よかろう is 良かろう、 derived from いい or よい. It's rather the "monologue" meaning of よかろう, more than the volitional. As if you said "well, I guess the small one would be better then."

I use よかろう almost everyday (or other adjectives, like 寒かろう), and hear it quite often too.

いいだろう isn't quite good. It's not unheard, but I don't think it's grammatically correct.

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1  
~だろう and ~でしょう are what I've learned in my Japanese classes. I've heard いいでしょう many more times than I can count. It seems like いいだろう should also be grammatically correct, but I guess it's one of those exceptions? Do you know anything about where this form came from? (does it (or did it) perhaps apply to other adjectives as well?) –  Nathan Ellenfield Sep 27 '11 at 5:18
4  
@NathanEllenfield You also learnt "いいです" and "いい", but not "いいだ" right? And "さむかったです" or "さむかった", not "さむいでした" nor "さむいだった". I guess that "さむかろう" is rather logical. It applies to all い-adjectives, and that's exactly how one conjugates them. –  Axioplase Sep 27 '11 at 5:26
    
Ohhhhhhhhhhhh! Of course! That makes perfect sense. It seems it's a contraction: さむくだろう -> さむかろう。That might explain where it came from. –  Nathan Ellenfield Sep 27 '11 at 5:31
3  
Nope, it is basically from "(stem) + /k/ + (あろう)" (same as 寒かった is from "(stem) + /k/ + (あった)". (Note: When these conjugations were arising, the relevant forms of ある weren't yet あろう or あった, but the relationship holds.) –  Matt Sep 27 '11 at 6:07

Since other answers have already covered its meaning.

Formation:

  • Adjective: よい/いい

  • よい in 連用形: よく

  • Verb: ある

  • Verb in Plain Volitional: あろう

Let's combine them:

  • よく + あろう + Sound Contraction( + to ) = よかろう
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1  
As Matt noted, it's a bit anachronistic to call it a contraction of 〜く and あろう; the contraction happened very long ago, before あらむ became あろう. –  Zhen Lin Sep 27 '11 at 10:49

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