I came across this phrase while reading an interview.

そういう時はなんて答えりゃいいんだ。

I think it means "At a time like that, such a reply/response is good."

But I don't understand the usage of りゃ. I couldn't find any reference as a suffix or conjugation.

  • 2
    Snailboat has given the correct answer below, so I will just mention the translation mistake that you made. The sentence is a question, not a statement. "How should I/one answer/respond on such an occasion?" – l'électeur Nov 13 '13 at 0:32
  • @TokyoNagoya I see the difference. But how do I know the meaning of なんて, as "What/How" as used in a question as above, or "What" used like 「なんて厄介なんだ!」 "What a headache!" (example from space ALC), where the meaning is more like "such" and not asking a question. (Maybe this should be a new question...) – user3169 Nov 25 '13 at 5:44
up vote 23 down vote accepted

It's a contraction of 答えれば. More generally, eba contracts to ya:

 kotaereba → kotaerya  (答えれば → 答えりゃ)   
     okeba →     okya   (おけば →  おきゃ)  
      ieba →      iya   (言えば →   言)  
  nakereba →  nakerya  (なければ → なけりゃ

(As you can see, the pattern is easier to see and describe when romanized.)

  • 1
    I thought なければ becomes なきゃ? – ithisa Nov 14 '13 at 23:31
  • 4
    @user54609 It can! なければ → なけりゃ → なきゃ – snailboat Nov 15 '13 at 0:18
  • 1
    Just to mention that this also applies to adjectives, as in the example 坊主憎けりゃ袈裟まで憎い, where 憎ければ has become 憎けりゃ. – kandyman Feb 8 at 19:50

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