I am trying to understand the lyrics to Matsumoto Bon Bon. Particularly the line in bold:

 松本 ぼん ぼん


 山にみどりの 風吹けば

 杉っぱ 青っぱ 青山さまが

 堀のむこうから 町のつじ

 どっこい じんじょ

I tried to look for 青っぱ but the only result is for あおっぱな, which is:

green snot (hanging from a child's nose, etc.)

I did not find 杉っぱ in the dictionary either.

Is there a "っぱ" suffix that has some well defined meaning in Japanese?


杉っぱ means 杉【すぎ】の葉【は】 "cedar leaves" and 青っぱ means 青葉【あおば】 "green (fresh) leaves".

Of course 葉っぱ is a word in itself. My guess would be that it is more a geminated version of 葉【は】 than it is a borrowing of っぱ in 葉っぱ, but it may be a combination of both! In any case, っぱ is not a productive suffix meaning "leaf of ..." and you can probably think of 杉っぱ and 青っぱ as an instance of poetic license.


Generally, "っぱ" is a euphonic change in the pronunciation of a Japanese word from "は" meaning "のは" or "は of" where は could be "葉 leaf", "歯 tooth", "派 party/faction/school/sect/group", "刃 cutting edge/blade", "波 wave" and etc.

菜{な}っ葉{ぱ}、味噌{みそ}っ歯{ぱ}、反{そ}っ歯{ぱ}、出{で}っ歯{ぱ} are often used with the usage written above including 青{あお}っぱ, 葉{は}っぱ and 杉{すぎ}っぱ.

In addition to the above general explanation, I'll provide supplementary explanation for the two examples: 葉っぱ and 杉っぱ.

As for 葉っぱ, it means "葉 leaf" and we use 葉っぱ often instead of 葉, and according to the above general explanation, 葉っぱ could be written as 葉っ葉. 葉っ葉 is a strange notation, so we write it as 葉っぱ not as 葉っ葉.
葉 and 歯 are both very common words having the same and simple pronunciation.
The reason we use 葉っぱ often instead of 葉 is that we would like to distinguish 葉 from 歯.

As for 杉っぱ, it is probably "杉の葉 cedar leaves" that ordinary Japanese can imagine, but we actually do not see the expression much. The reason is that "杉 cedar" is famous and anyone can understand, but cedar leaves are hard to imagine which part of cedar is actually pointed with the expression of cedar leaves. Things that are difficult to imagine do not have common names, so I think that the expression 杉っぱ or 杉の葉 is not used much.

  • dainichi's answer on this question has another guess for っぱ in 葉っぱ — that it is a separate morpheme also appearing in 下っ端 and 木っ端微塵 meaning "something unimportant" or "small piece" etc. – Earthliŋ Jul 24 '18 at 6:53
  • @ Earthlinŋ:「下っ端」 や「木っ端微塵」の「端」が "something unimportant" or "small piece" という意味を持つのはその通り正しいです。それは、「っぱ=っ端」という発音だからそのような意味を持つのでなく、「端」という言葉がそのような意味を持っているからです。「下端{したは}の奴{やつ}」⇒「下端{したは}/下端{したば}」⇒「下{した}っ端{ぱ}」のように発音が変化したと推察しています。 – mackygoo Jul 24 '18 at 7:16

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