Even here in Osaka I don't hear it very often among anyone even remotely young, but where does this come from originally? Does anyone have a reference on hand?

If I myself had to guess from what I know of classical Japanese I would think it could be

(打ち消し)ぬ → (連用形)に + あり + たり → にありたり → にありた → なりた → なんだ


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    Martin doesn't give an etymology, but he lists なんだ→なかった, なんだら→なかったら, なんだり→なかったり, and he adds early Meiji literary usages なんだれ(ど) and んだら→なんだら. – snailplane Jul 26 '14 at 11:15

According to a dictionary,



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  • Figured as much; I've never been able to find anything definitive. I'll leave this open a bit longer and then hand the answer your way if nobody else can dig anything up. – Brandon Aug 4 '14 at 13:11

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