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I am interested in the literal meaning of くすぐったい. If くすぐったい is equivalent to the English expression, "That tickles!" (said by someone being tickled), what is the literal meaning of this word? If it is an adjective stemming from the verb くすぐる, would it literally mean "I want to tickle!"? Is there a logic behind the use of the -tai form adjective ( expressing desire ) that I am not getting?

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    Perhaps incidentally, the English verb, "tickle," is also somewhat confusing as it can describe both the act of tickling and the state of being tickled. – yadokari Aug 3 '12 at 0:14
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If くすぐったい is equivalent to the English expression, "That tickles!" (said by someone being tickled),

Translation requires context. In additional to "tickles", it may also mean "embarrassing": そんなに褒められると擽ったい.

what is the literal meaning of this word?

From the verb kusugur- (擽る, to tickle), the adjective kusuguttai describes the situation of being tickled. Note that there is also kosogur- and kosoguttai.

Is there a logic behind the use of the -tai form adjective ( expressing desire ) that I am not getting?

As the desiderative -tai, this would become kusuguRItai. Rather, this is another -(t)tai suffix that expresses 1) extremeness and 2) situational. There are both -tai and -ttai forms. Other examples include atubottai, bottai, habattai, harebottai, hirabettai, hirattai, kemutai, kemuttai, kutihabattai, medetai, tumetai, usirometai, usubettai, uzattai, yabottai, zirettai.

  • Thanks. What do you think is the literal meaning of くすぐったい when said by someone being tickled? Also, could you write a few of the examples you listed in Japanese script? – yadokari Aug 3 '12 at 0:49
  • @yadokari "What do you think is the literal meaning of くすぐったい when said by someone being tickled?" "I am in the state of being tickled", ie, "it/that tickles". At work now, so may add a few example sentences tonight or during the weekend. Until then, I suggest looking them up in a dictionary. – Dono Aug 3 '12 at 0:54
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    I do not think bottai, habattai, hirattai, kemuttai, kutihabattai are (common) words. Usubettai should be usupperai. – user458 Aug 3 '12 at 2:25
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    @sawa I intentionally omitted obscure and uncommon words. As for usubettai, you may want to consult a dictionary. Link: dictionary.goo.ne.jp/leaf/jn2/18883/m0u/… – Dono Aug 3 '12 at 2:49

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