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I was reading a joke:

[長寿村]{ちょうじゅむら}

[旅人]{たびびと}:この[村]{むら}は[世界一]{せかいいち}の[長生]{ながい}きの村だって?

[村人]{むらびと}:はい、[未]{いま}だに[死]{し}んだ[人]{ひと}がおりません。

旅人:じゃ、あの[葬儀]{そうぎ}の[列]{れつ}はなんだ?

村人:はい、[葬儀屋]{そうぎや}が[自殺]{じさつ}をしたんです。

I understand most of the joke except the end of the second line:

死んだ人がおりません。

I see that おりません is used here and I don't understand why it is here. I checked the dictionary on my Mac for the word おる and it told me to look for おりる where I found 下りる, 降りる. After I read the meanings, I can't find anything that would make sense in this context.

Then I started to think that this is a typo and it should have been いません instead:

死んだ人がいません。

literally, "there does not exist a person who died".

Question: Is this a typo? If not, what is the meaning of おりません and how will the meaning change if I used いません?

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2 Answers 2

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In meaning,

「おる」=「いる」 and

「おりません」=「いません」

So, there is no typo here as 「おる」 is a dictionary word. Think of it as a somewhat old-fashioned version of 「いる」.

The line in question is uttered by a villager, so one could say that 「おりません」 is being used as role language at least loosely.

「未だに死んだ人がおりません。」 means:

"No one has ever died (here)." or

"There is no one who has died (here)."

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  • Might be worth mentioning that おる is still used in modern-day language in extremely formal situations.
    – Kurausukun
    Dec 31, 2016 at 8:23
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It's 居{お}る as in http://jisho.org/word/居る-1 .

死んだ人がおりません。

would be translated to

There is no dead person.

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  • Will it change the meaning of the sentence if I used いません here?
    – Sweeper
    Dec 30, 2016 at 12:28
  • @Sweeper I think not. いる is also written 居る and have very similar meaning ( if any different )
    – Yuki Inoue
    Dec 30, 2016 at 12:30
  • "There s no dead person." would not be such an accurate translation.
    – user4032
    Dec 30, 2016 at 12:35

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