6

I can think of many gairaigo noun + する verbs in Japanese, like ゴルフする, but I can think of only a handful of non-する verbs in Japanese, such as ググる (mentioned in Are there words which consist of katakana and hiragana letters together?), and they appear to be a bit slangy in nature.

Why are there very few non-する verbs in Japanese? I can think of a few hypotheses, but no way of testing them:

  • There are far fewer new verbs in Japanese than there are new nouns, so most Japanese verbs were created before gairaigo was a major influence on Japanese.
  • gairaigo words are somehow unsuitable for inflection, such that while they can be incorporated into the language as する verbs, as nouns don't get inflected, it's impractical to make them an inflected verb
  • gairaigo words are somehow more acceptable as nouns than as verbs

I found a claim in Wikipedia that in Japanese, verbs are a "closed class", which do not easily accept new members. Elsewhere it claims that not only gairaigo but also kango contribute very few non-する verbs.

Side question: Are there fewer newly created verbs in Japanese than newly created nouns? Also, are there nouns that are mainly used as する verbs rather than by themselves?

Related questions:

  • 3
    「グーグル」 is not a verb: 「ググる」 is. – l'électeur Feb 5 at 9:32
  • 3
    "gairaigo words are somehow unsuitable for inflection": no word (Japanese or foreign) is. ググる is a hack, based on the last letter of グーグル being contrived as a verb termination. The reason new verbs are common in English (even created on the fly) is that such a hack is unnecessary: there is barely any conjugation in English, so you claim some random word is a verb and off you go. Perhaps the Japanese will eventually add -る to a foreign noun and call it a verb (this is happening in French with people merely adding -er to some English words, making them verbs). – Mathieu Bouville Feb 5 at 9:41
  • 2
    @MathieuBouville: "Perhaps the Japanese will eventually add -る to a foreign noun and call it a verb" -- That's already happening, as with ググる. See also スタバる, ドライビングる, クッキングる. As with most language communities, neologisms take a while to gain acceptance, so these are all considered "slang" at present. However, the mechanism is reasonably well established, and Japanese speakers would recognize these as verbs, and know how to conjugate them. – Eiríkr Útlendi Feb 5 at 19:37
4

I think that the "noun" parts of suru verbs "feel" very much like verbs themselves — the する is only needed for inflection and may be omitted as for example in 体言止め taigendome used in newspaper headlines.

Most suru verbs are derived from Chinese loanwords. Loaning a verb from a non-Chinese language and adding する for inflection purposes follows exactly the same pattern, so I don't find it surprising at all that it would be the norm for verb loans from all languages.

(I have also observed that native Japanese speakers who are learning a foreign language will use this pattern for verbs from other languages, speaking essentially Japanese spiced with vocabulary from this foreign language. Likewise, children who are native speakers of both Japanese and another language might incorporate a foreign verb +する as a loanword in this way.)

I find it more surprising that there exist loaned verbs, which do not follow this pattern.

Verbs like ダブる, ググる, etc. are reanalyzing ル of ダブル, グーグル, etc. whereas サボる, ミスる, スタンバる, etc. don't even rely on such a reanalysis and are "true" non-suru verbs which are also gairaigo.

But that these are rare is consistent with the fact that the usual rule seems to be "loaned verbs follow the pattern [verb]+する".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.