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I've read that several bits of Japanese come from contractions with ある:

  • comes from で + ある (source)
  • なる comes from に + ある (source)
  • たり comes from て + あり (source)
  • たり comes from と + あり (source)
  • Adjective forms like たのしかった come from inflecting たのしく + ある (source)

(My apologies if I've made any mistakes in the above list!)

Because contraction with ある seems to have occurred quite a few times, I started wondering if the suffix 〜がる (as in たがる or ほしがる) was a contraction of が + ある. I realize this is baseless speculation, but it sounded plausible to me, so I tried to look it up to see if it was right. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything about the etymology of がる online, and my dictionaries don't say anything on the subject either.

Is this possible?

Is there a better explanation?

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Note that there are two -tari: 1) to + ari and 2) te + ari. – Dono Dec 18 '12 at 22:54
@Kaz: がる is a suffix, and not a verb in itself. Moreover, [欲]{ほ}しがる is adjective [欲]{ほ}しい with suffix -がる, and has nothing to do with verb [干]{ほ}す. – Tsuyoshi Ito Dec 20 '12 at 5:10
up vote 9 down vote accepted

This paper breifly lists this as a source:

「がる」の語源にはいくつかの可能性があるようだが [...] 日本国語大辞典によると、 「アハレガル、ウレシガル、痛ガル、面白ガルのガルは情をそそられる意から、アガルの約。道心ガル、才子ガル、得意ガルのガルは、ゲ(気)アルの約〔大言海〕」などの紹介がある。

I do not have access to 日本国語大辞典, but it seems it does not support your がある theory, rather suggests that it derives from あがる and/or 気{げ}ある.

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Interesting. Is -げる then derived by extension from -がる, or is it from something else? There is an apparent root form of -ぐ as in 広ぐ (whence 広がる・広げる), 繋ぐ (whence 繋がる・繋げる), etc., but this might be a different root. – Eiríkr Útlendi Jun 7 '14 at 0:14

I do not know the origin of the suffix -がる, but I am afraid that your theory is unlikely because the suffix -がる is attached to something different from what a particle が is attached. For example, we say 痛がる, but 痛が is not grammatical.

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