6

I need some help with the grammar in this sentence:

ボストンに居たらなら、何で会いに来なかったんだい。

I understand the conditional -たら form and the なら conditional alone. But I have not seen the two together.

Does the sentence simply mean If you were in Boston why didn't you come to see me? If so, why are both conditionals used? Is this for emphasis?

7

「ボストンに居{い}たらなら、何で会いに来なかったんだい。」

「居たなら」 is incorrect. At least, it is highly substandard because there is no point in using both 「たら」 and 「なら」.

The correct and standard forms would be:

  • 「居たなら」

  • 「居たなら」 (informal form of above)

  • 「居たなら」

While it is true that a very small group of native speakers use 「たらなら」 occasionally, I would personally never recommend that Japanese-learners use it. If one did, people would notice it.

The sentence means exactly what you stated.

If so, why are both conditionals used? Is this for emphasis?

It is only a misuse; It is not for emphasis. Then again, people who use that "double-if" may actually be aiming for emphasis. It beats me.

0

The たらなら construction seems to be something that is in use. Examples like 居たらなら, 食べたらなら and others are easily found on the web, in fairly copious numbers, as well as だったらなら, and even だったらならば.

だったらなら is mentioned in this this thesis paper about guiding Chinese students of Japanese in the use of conditionals. In a section that presents the finding that 26.79% native speaker subjects in its study found だったら a bit unnatural compared to だったのなら, this sentence appears:

理由は「だったら」が「だったのなら」、「だったらなら」より少し不自然で、完全に使えないとまでは 言えないということであった。

The author seems to take だったらなら not only for granted, but as something a bit more natural than だったら alone.

Conjecture: in rapid speech (早口), たらなら and たのなら can sound almost the same: the の or ら just get a quick tongue flap. Also, the "o" sound in の is surrounded by two "a" morae, so it pulls higher toward "a". It seems that the difference between the two readily succumbs as a casualty when people are engaging in 早口.

Tongue twister time: さようなら、「たのなら」、これから「たらなら」。(^^)

  • 2
    「だったら」が「だったのなら」、「だったらなら」より少し不自然で in that paper should be a typo for "「だったら」が「だったのなら」、「だったなら」より少し不自然で". – Chocolate Aug 23 at 23:06
  • 2
    All of the 69 results for 居たらなら seem to be typos. Almost all of the 100 results for だったらならば are separated, eg 私が鳥だったら(ならば) – Chocolate Aug 23 at 23:17
  • @Chocolate You're probably right. I've never read this in a book or any other written form, nor heard it from anyone at any level of formality. – Kaz Aug 24 at 5:42

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.