I keep on coming across the particle か at the end of sentences without it having a clear or necessary interrogative nuance.

An example. The 1st Angel in Neon Genesis Evangelion is regenerating itself after the first raid: 予想通り、自己修復中か. Why would they introduce an interrogative nuance into what was already a predicted outcome?

I get the impression that Japanese speech encourages the use of か without any specific interrogative or grammatical purpose other than providing a strong phonetic closure to a sentence? Can anyone confirm or dispel this impression?

  • obviously we’re lacking much context. but on its own, this seems to make good sense. “is it really as predicted?” – A.Ellett May 28 at 19:03
  • This Angel creature has been blown to pieces; a few minutes later its body is regenerating; then a male, tough, military commander makes the remark quoted above. – Miketrocadero May 28 at 20:03

This function of this か is not purely phonetic, but rather serves to make the sentence less of a outward statement and more of a self-directed or self-reflecting one.

It makes the information value of sentence primarily be “I had considered ~ previously but wasn’t sure, but in the end it indeed it is 〜, huh...”

It’s often is accompanied by やっぱり (or 予想通り playing a similar role in this sentence). Even when such an adverb isn’t present, you can imagine it being there. E.g. そっか{HHL} can basically be expanded to やっぱりそうだったのか.

| improve this answer | |
  • Thanks a lot, I get what you say in the second paragraph about the change from half-certainty to full-certainty. – Miketrocadero May 28 at 20:29
  • Yeah, that's a good way of putting it. – Darius Jahandarie May 28 at 20:37

To take a more common example, you will often hear people responding to new information with そうですか。 This is not a question. It is more like "Oh, I see."

| improve this answer | |
  • If you make it a blanket statement like that I would have to disagree. Even the falling intonation そうですか is often responded to with an あいづち-like ええ or うん or something, but it is in response to the そうですか question. – By137 May 29 at 9:42

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.