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I have read on other threads here (as well as on other pages online) that the て in expressions such as どういたしまし, 初めまし or あけましおめでとうございます was not the て-form but rather "a final particle used for a returning remark" (as stated in this thread https://japanese.stackexchange.com/a/13055/54803), where the person who answered names the particle 反問的用法の終助詞.

Could you please say a bit more on that particle, its etymology, what it means and how it is actually used?

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  • If you look at Google search results, you can find that all the articles that contain 反問的用法の終助詞 cite this Wiktionary entry as the source, and Wiktionary's definition of this て can be found here (軽い疑問・反問を表す).
    – naruto
    Nov 26, 2022 at 4:34

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て in どういたしまして are different from the other two.

大辞泉 definition only gives the meaning as a question marker: 質問や確かめの気持ちを表す。「あなたにもでき―」「いらしたことあっ―」 (FYI this is normally used by females).

反問的用法 should be a variant of this and interprets どういたしまして as 'What have I done (to be thanked)?'. It is not possible to understand 初めまして or あけまして this way.


The other two are more simply te-form, indicating the sentence continues (初めましてよろしくお願いします).


Etymology can only be guessed, but all of the above (終助詞 or not) seem to have derived from renyo-kei (stem of te-form) of つ, auxiliary verb for perfective (roughly modern た): 〘接助〙 (完了の助動詞「つ」の連用形から).

Note all the expressions can be translated with perfect tense: What have I done?, Now we have met for the first time, Now the new year has come.

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