Yep, I'm reading a lot of Tintin in Japanese recently, and he keeps throwing me curve balls with the language. Here's another one.

The situation is that the car he was in has been run off the road into a small lake. A few people have gathered around to see if he's okay, and he asks if there is anyone in the group who can drive him the rest of the way to Nyon (a small city in Switzerland).

Here's how he asks:

tintin saying aru

The part I'm wondering about is where he says 「ところでみなさんの中{なか}にニヨンにつれってくださるかたありません?」

Unless I'm missing something, he is using ありません, the negative form of ある, to refer to people. I was taught that one should use いる for people, and that it would be rude to use ある, because of the obvious implication that you are referring to them as inanimate objects.

Especially since he is asking for a considerable favour from strangers, shouldn't Tintin use いる?

Why did the translator opt to use ある?

Bonus question: Could Tintin have used おりません in this situation? Keigo always trips me up, but I thought おる was a more polite way of saying いる...? I'm not sure if おる is humble or not, and if it would imply he was being humble or if it would impose humbleness on the people he was talking to (and therefore not fit).

  • おる is usually humble, but there are complications in Kansai dialects. The honorific verb is いらっしゃる.
    – Zhen Lin
    Commented Oct 13, 2011 at 6:43
  • I have no idea, but google (yes, I know) told me there are more くださる方がある than くださる方がいる.
    – Axioplase
    Commented Oct 13, 2011 at 10:01

1 Answer 1


Ok, so, in "modern" Japanese, the norm is "ある" for things, and "いる" for beings. However, it seems that it's not a mandatory rule to follow.

〜くださる方がある has probably survived today as a fixed form from more liberal times.

You'll find more such idiosyncrasies around, as in words like 在宅{ざいたく} which means "to be home" but where the root is 在る{ある}.

  • 6
    @Axioplase: You have it backwards. The kanji 在 was assigned to the word ある, not the other way around. So 在 in 在宅 has nothing to do with ある.
    – Zhen Lin
    Commented Oct 13, 2011 at 17:43

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