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I was recently acquainted with the inflection "やがる," as illustrated in the examples above. Would it be right to describe it as a 活用形 (inflection)? Can anyone explain how to use it and what role it serves?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

やがる is a verb since the endings it takes is the same as the other verbs:

食べやがる non-past
食べやがった past
食べやがれ imperative

やがる attaches to stems; it is an affix that attaches to a verb and creates a verb.

Its meaning is to add the first person's feeling that the act was done disfavorably or turned out to be disfavorable to the first person. It is the opposite of -てくれる, which expresses the first person's feeling that the act was favorable. Unlike -てくれる, though, やがる is colloquial and mildly insulting.

'put a hat on someone' [Neutral]

'put a hat on someone' [Favorable]

'put a hat on someone' [Disfavorable]

In your last example, the reason やがる is used despite the positive connotation from よいもの is because the first person is expressing jeolousy (serious or not). From the point of view of the first person, it is not a good thing that the other person made a good thing.

Traditional grammar confuses classification of words based on their meaning and classification based on the (morphological) form. It considers whatever word or morpheme that has the meaning comparable to the meanings expressed by auxiliaries in western languages (such as modaility, etc.) as 助動詞 'auxiliary verb'. However, parts of speech is a morphological (and syntactic) notion. It is a classification of words and morphemes based on their forms. It has nothing to do with the meaning. The traditional classification is inappropriate.

Furthermore, in modern analysis of Japanese, there is no such thing as 活用形. All there is is the verb stem, and an affix that attaches to it. What traditional grammar calls 活用語尾, on which 活用形 manifests, is actually the initial vowel of the affix (and/or some few sounds surrounding it). For example, traditional grammar says that the negative form verb 書かない consists of the stem , its 活用語尾 and a 助動詞 ない. But notice how unsophisticated and complicated that analysis is. In modern analysis, all there is is the verb stem kak- and the negative affix -anai (which is itself an i-adjective).

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Thank you. Do you have an opinion on the meaning it lends? – yadokari Jan 10 '12 at 2:45
@Flaw These will be technical, and I do not know if it suits your need, but what about 1. By Shibatani (a Japanese linguist): amazon.com/Languages-Japan-Cambridge-Language-Surveys/dp/… or 2. By Vance (a phonologist): amazon.com/Introduction-Japanese-Phonology-Suny-Linguistics/dp/… – user458 Jan 10 '12 at 9:39
can i use やがる by itself? – yadokari Jan 11 '12 at 22:40
@sawa. It's okay if they're technical, I'll just have to learn more things then. Unfortunately, "Introduction to Japanese Phonology" is not available in my local bookshops and libraries. (Published in 1986 so I guess it's pretty hard to find it now). Oh well, looks like I have to have it shipped. Thanks for the recommendations. – Flaw Jan 12 '12 at 5:15
@Flaw Both books can be found in NUS library bit.ly/L0QSji and bit.ly/L0QWQi (get a friend to borrow it for you). They even have "The Structure of the Japanese Language": bit.ly/Lb5G19 – Pacerier May 31 '12 at 23:08

やがる is a 助動詞 (auxiliary verb). 活用形 is used to refer to the conjugated form of a word.

やがる is used to state the action of the opponent with emotion of scorn or dislike.

From Yahoo dictionary:


It is used after the 連用形 of verbs, and 「れる」「られる」「せる」「させる」.

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Do you think it is always negative? In the last example I gave, I think it can be interpreted as (positive) benign envy. my friend explained the last example thusly: このとき、自分には作ることができないという、うらやましい気持ちを含んだ表現になります。 – yadokari Jan 10 '12 at 2:44
Envy is a sin (Joking). I don't think it can be used with a strict positive emotion. – fefe Jan 10 '12 at 3:03
Yes but then is うらやましい negative? In a christian worldview, perhaps, but when thinking in Japanese, I don't have negative connotations with うらやましい. just something to think about... – yadokari Jan 10 '12 at 3:09

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