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I was recently present in a chat room where someone asked:

日本人おるか

I translated this as:

Are there Japanese people (here)?

But in that case, I'd expect it to be:

日本人いるか

I looked up おる in an online dictionary and found that it had the same meaning as いる:

居る{いる} : 1. to be (animate); to be; to exist​.

(Also has the reading おる listed)

This brings me to my question; Why was the おる reading of 居る used, instead of いる? Or did I get the translation wrong?

  • 1
    あのな、分からんけど、関西弁ちゃう?(笑) – ajsmart Jun 8 '17 at 21:12
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    @ajsmart 多分けど別の説明ありません? – Jorn Vernee Jun 8 '17 at 21:31
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    @ajsmart 他の方言でも使われるのでは? – Aeon Akechi Jun 8 '17 at 23:20
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    福岡に住んでたとき、"おる"はよく聞かれたんです。 – A.Ellett Jun 9 '17 at 1:52
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    徳島県の阿波弁でもよく使われとる。(^^)/ – landonepps Jun 9 '17 at 5:16
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I'll take a whack at this, but I want any 日本人 who read this to correct me if I am wrong here.

First of all, your translation was correct.

Reading @Chocolate's comment on the other answer, it dawned on me. If I am not mistaken, 居{お}る can be used in way that elevates the status of the person you are talking about. For example:

神様{かみさま}は存在{そんざい}して居{お}られると思{おも}いますか?

Do you think that God exists?

I spent a lot of time in Japan going from door to door as a missionary, and I also heard the following phrase a lot as well:

主人{しゅじん}は仕事{しごと}に行っておりますので、けっこうです。

My Husband isn't here, so we're good.

I always thought that was kind of a lame excuse, but it is a good example of the usage of おる, so I guess it all works out.

According to jisho.org, おる is usually written as kana alone. However, I wouldn't be surprised if you frequently see the kanji in use as well. I believe that the usage of おる should be carefully watched though. If you only use the plain form, it could (and probably will) be mistaken as 方言, as we've been discussing in the comments. In regards to 方言、I also suspect that おる is written as kana only.

In regards to what you saw (日本人おるか), that was very likely 方言、not the form that I discussed above. It just seems kind of rude to ask that way.

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  • 1
    I've noticed before that some people take it easy when talking online, maybe not really being in-polite, but just using the fewest characters possible to say what they want. Someone else also responded to the question with おる, so I thought maybe it had a different connotation than いる. – Jorn Vernee Jun 9 '17 at 15:13
  • @JornVernee I haven't really had much experience with online stuff, but it seems to fit with the little experience I have had. The bulk of my experience came in speaking, not so much in writing. Though I understand 関西弁 quite well, I never used it for two reasons: 1) I was a missionary, and it was frowned upon by my leaders. 2) I was very careful in trying not to be rude in any way. That might have an effect on why it felt a little rude to me. – ajsmart Jun 9 '17 at 15:22
  • @ajsmart Isn't it the opposite of elevating the subject's status? The husband is part of the speaker's in-group, so おります the humble form of いる is used. If you want to elevate the subject, おいでになります or いらっしゃいます would be used. – landonepps Jun 13 '17 at 4:53

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