I've recently been noticing some patterns which look like two repeated past-tense verbs, but I think which indicate a command rather than the past tense. For example:

"Get along with you!"

I also noticed in the Baseball manga "Major" the following, which was called over a loudspeaker:


But I'm not sure what it means, or indeed if it is a command or baseball/sport-specific (it was at the start of the chapter and I'm missing the previous volume so I'm not 100% sure what the context is.)

If both of the above are commands, are they roughly equivalent to さあ、行け and 入れ!? Is 行け! more assertive than 行った行った!?

Can this pattern work with any verb, e.g. さあ、食べた食べた! or is does it only work for a few?

  • I've heard this a number of times myself, but I've never thought to ask anyone about it. Quite interested in the answer. – rintaun Apr 28 '12 at 3:41

Axel Svahn has written about this construction in detail, including summaries of other scholars' viewpoints:

That second one in particular is well worth reading if you are interested in this subject. It includes this summary of what -ta is:

  1. It functions as a highly informal imperative.
  2. It is associated with a feeling of urgency on the part of the speaker.
  3. It is not a phonetic alteration of another imperative construction (such as the -te or -e (ro) constructions mentioned in chapter 2), but is instead derived from the perfective function of the past tense marker -ta and its modal use in expressing the attitude of the speaker towards a given situation.

There is also a very interesting discussion of the various theories about why, if it is so "informal" or "crude", it is nevertheless so commonly used by shopkeepers trying to get customers to buy what they have to sell.

  • Interestingly, Mandarin and Cantonese both have a similar construction: sik6 jo2 keoi5 laa1 (gloss: eat PERF it PART): "Eat it up!", but more literally something like "(Be in the state of) having eaten it!" – jogloran Apr 28 '12 at 10:44
  • 1
    Interesting. In Japanese, there is a way to say "be in the state of having eaten it": 食べちゃって. – Kaz Apr 28 '12 at 20:05
  • These are amazingly in-depth documents. Thanks for the links! – cypher Apr 29 '12 at 10:05
  • @Kaz While you're right that 食べちゃって could be an informal command that seems parallel to jogloran's Chinese example, 食べちゃって is a contraction of 食べてしまって, which does not refer to a continuing state (unlike, say, one interpretation of 食べている), because, among other reasons, it has not been fully predicated, in particular with a state-referencing verbal like いる or ある. Also, your gloss of "be" is likely to be confusing to beginners without clarification that it is an imperative. – weirdalsuperfan Jul 25 '18 at 14:20

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