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Does anybody have a clue what こまけー might mean? Below are some sentences for context and the phrase as it's used:

まじめでおカタい感じの女子大生は、やたらとわたしを目を敵にしてきた。わたしが何をやっても文句をつけてくる。「しょうゆの向きは、こうじゃなくてこう!」って こまけー んだよ!

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It could be a colloquial way of writing 「細{こま}かいよ!」 maybe? –  cypher Nov 17 '11 at 1:17
    
"Komakai" and "komake"... I didn't see that before, now I feel silly. Thank you so much! –  Kristine Nov 17 '11 at 1:21
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1 Answer

up vote 10 down vote accepted

In Edo-speak (江戸言葉) or rough speak in present Japanese, a sequence of a vowel followed by a high vowel is often contracted to one long vowel. こまけー's original form is [細]{こま}かい 'detailed'. In this case, it is claiming that the other person cares too much about subtle things.

There are other patterns as well:

ai → ee,   [高]{たか}い → たけえ
ei → ee,   [競]{けい}[馬]{ば} → けえば    (Standard pronounciation; written as けいば)
oi → ee,   [面]{おも}[白]{しろ}い → おもしれえ
ui → ii,    [悪]{わる}い → わりい
au → oo,   [買]{かう}た → こおた    (Kansai dialect; written as こうた)
eu → oo,   でせう → でしょお  (Standard pronounciation; written as でしょう)
ou → oo,   [泥]{どろ}[棒]{ぼう} → どろぼお  (Standard pronounciation; written as どろぼう)
iu → uu,   [言]{い}う → ゆう      (Standard pronounciation; written as いう)

All these follow the following phonological rule:

[α high][+ high, β back] → [α high, - low, β back]:

where

+---------------+--------+--------+
|               | - back | + back |
+---------------+--------+--------+
| + high, - low | i      | u      |
| - high, - low | e      | o      |
| - high, + low |        | a      |
+---------------+--------+--------+

Note: As far as I know, this rule was discovered by 窪薗晴夫.

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Just to avoid possible confusion, “the person” is not the speaker, and こまけーんだよ means “You care too much.” –  Tsuyoshi Ito Nov 17 '11 at 2:23
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@TsuyoshiIto Thanks. That is what I meant. You made it clear. –  sawa Nov 17 '11 at 2:56
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You can't add table, tr, or td elements to this website as they aren't in the allowed tag list –  cypher Nov 17 '11 at 3:08
2  
@sawa I stumbled across this site while looking for a workaround and used it to generate the table. Looks like it works well enough. –  Troyen Nov 17 '11 at 3:28
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Thanks for laying out the specifics of the underlying rule here so clearly, sawa. (Also, hey, Kubosono is the guy who wrote アクセントの法則! Great book, that.) –  Matt Nov 18 '11 at 0:57
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