What is the origin of the contraction では→じゃ? I googled around for a bit, but I wasn't able to find any answer at all.


The contraction is simply a matter of fast speech and sound shapes. で or /de/ is a front-of-the-mouth sound, where affrication is not uncommon. Consider how English don't you often becomes doncha in fast speech, or how could you becomes cudja. So too with では -- /de wa/*/dea/*/d͡ʑea//d͡ʑa/.

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