5

I know from my dictionary that 病気がち means "proneness to being ill". 病気 just means illness, so where does the がち come from?

My research so far: I think がち might be the ます-stem of the verb 勝つ. The dictionary supports this hypothesis as it lists 勝ち as a suffix meaning "apt to do; tend to do (used to describe a negative tendency)". It also lists 涙勝ち as an "archaism" for "prone to crying" which further supports my hypothesis.

I have the following questions:

  1. Is 勝つ really the origin of がち in 病気がち?
  2. Why is a very positive verb such as 勝つ used to describe "being prone to something" in a negative way?
  3. Are there any other examples of 勝つ being used in a negative way?
  4. Are there any similar commonly used words ending in 勝ち?
  • Kenkyusha's NJED (4th ed.) may answer your first two questions, at least partly: 病気がちの sickly, weak, invalid, inclined to ill health. ~勝ち be apt to, be prone to, tend to, easily. – Kess Vargavind Jan 16 '17 at 22:56
2
  1. Is 勝つ really the origin of がち in 病気がち?

Yes I think so. But in modern Japanese this suffix is usually written in hiragana.

  1. Why is a very positive verb such as 勝つ used to describe "being prone to something" in a negative way?

In modern Japanese it mainly means to win, but 勝つ also means to outweigh or to outperform. Such ~がち suffix survives mainly in some fixed phrases. I think ~がち is not necessarily negative, as seen in the examples below.

  1. Are there any other examples of 勝つ being used in a negative way?
  2. Are there any similar commonly used words ending in 勝ち?

Here are some common phrases that are safely usable in modern Japanese.

  • ~しがち: (na-adj) tend to do ~ (perhaps this is the most common example)
  • ありがち: (na-adj) common, frequently seen (it does not have negative connotations)
  • 荷が勝つ: (idiom) ~ is too much load (for someone)
  • 伏し目がち: (na-adj) with eyes downcast
  • 赤みがかった(色)/青みがかった(色): reddish/blueish (color)

Theoretically, I think がち can be used with any action verbs, and you can find some examples in this list (note that these are from relatively old novels). But がち sounds fairly literary today if used outside of fixed phrases.

  • 1
    赤みがかる isn't a usage of 勝つ, is it? – nodakai Jan 17 '17 at 4:09
  • @nodakai Hmm, I'm seeing two different explanations. dictionary.goo.ne.jp/thsrs/12054/meaning/m0u and dictionary.goo.ne.jp/jn/37976/meaning/m0u But 赤みかった色 sounds okay to me, too, which implies the verb かつ is used here. – naruto Jan 17 '17 at 4:12
  • 1
    「赤みがかった」は終止形にすると「赤みがかる」になります。この「がかる」はおそらく「掛かる」の連濁から来ているのではないでしょうか。一方で「赤みのかった」の終止形は「赤みがかつ」で、この「かつ」は「勝つ」から来ています。こちらの「の」「が」は助詞ですね。意味的にも「赤が他の色に覆いかぶさったもの」と「赤の成分が全体の中で突出しているもの」で違いがあるように思います。「赤みがかった青」とはいえますが「赤みの勝った青」とはいえませんよね。 – marasai Jan 17 '17 at 4:58
  • 2
    「赤味の勝った紫」は紫が赤の成分を含むために成立する表現です。青は赤の成分を含まないために「赤味の勝った青」とはいえません。 – marasai Jan 17 '17 at 5:16
  • 1
    @marasai ああそういう意味ですか。じゃあ「~(が/の)勝った」「~懸かった」の両方があって、ちょっと意味が違う、ということですかね。 – naruto Jan 17 '17 at 5:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.