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I came across the following in a newspaper article:

藤沢健太教授(宇宙物理学)らの研究グループ

The first part (藤沢健太教授) is the name of a professor (Professor Kenta Fujisawa). The parentheses say "Astrophysics", and the last part (の研究グループ) indicates his research group. It's the ~ら that confuses me.

I had only ever heard ~ら after かれ or お前, so I did some searching, and I found these sites.

  • This source says it is used for かれ, but doesn't elaborate.
  • This source says that it is an informal version of ~たち, which doesn't seem to fit in the context of a newspaper (unless I'm wrong about that), or the very technical topic.
  • And this source simply says that it's another version of ~たち.

I'm still unclear as to when one should use ら if it's informal, yet also in the paper. Does anyone know the nuance of it?

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Besides whether they are correct or not, they don't conflict. What if ら can be used for かれ, and is another version of たち, namely, an informal version? Your question is strange. –  user458 Dec 10 '11 at 19:17
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@sawa I see what you're saying, but what I don't understand is why it's used in the newspaper, which as far as I know, doesn't use informal phrases. I re-read the first source...I misunderstood what it was trying to say, that ら can be used for かれ, but it's not exclusive to it. –  silvermaple Dec 10 '11 at 19:42
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Although 俺ら is informal as claimed in your second link, I do not agree with the blanket claim that suffix ら is informal. As you observed by yourself, use of suffix ら is common in the formal context such as newspaper articles. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Dec 10 '11 at 19:59
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possible duplicate of Pluralization in Japanese: usage of -たち and -ら –  Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Dec 11 '11 at 1:33

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

It is rather the other way around of what the second link says, and the reason for that description is that it is probably confusing politeness and formality.

  • ら: non-polite, formal
  • たち: slightly polite, informal
  • がた: polite

As for 俺ら, 俺 is highly informal, and the whole combination is informal because of that even if ら is formal.

And besides that, some personal pronouns only go with either of them as noted in the first link.

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