Thursday, November 16, 2017

Bakana! バカな!

B-b-b-bakana!!! "impossible!!!", "it can't be!!!" The word bakana doesn't actually mean those things I just said? Even though people always translate bakana! as "impossible!" and so on? Bakana! If the word bakana doesn't mean that, then what does bakana mean in Japanese?!

The actual meaning of bakana is an unthinkable one: it's the word baka バカ, "stupid," together with the Japanese particle na な, which creates adjectives. So it isn't even one word. It's two words.

Baka na! How can that be?! The word bakana has literally nothing to do with "stupid." It means "impossible" for kamisama's sake! What kind of arcane Japanese language trickery is going on here?

It's nothing so mysterious. Bakana! or, rather, baka na バカな, is a phrase cut short. Since the na particle turned baka into an adjective, there should be a noun for it to describe. But where is the noun? Normally it'd be in front of it: baka na something, a "stupid" something. But this something wasn't said. It's like saying "what the...!" Well, what the what? What goes after the "the"?

In the case of baka na, it's probably this:
  • baka na koto! バカなこと!
    Stupid thing! Stupid idea! Stupid action [you've taken]!
    Foolish!
    Non-sense!

Likewise:
  • sonna baka na?! そんなバカな?!
    What the?!

Would come from:
  • sonna baka na koto... そんなバカなこと…
    Such stupid thing...
  • ...aru wake ga nai! ...あるわけがない!
    ...can't possibly exist!
  • ...dekiru wake ga nai!! ...出来るわけがない!!
    ...can't possibly be done!!
  • ...okoru hazu ga nai!!! ...起こるはずがない!!!
    ...would never happen!!!

So now you know what bakana! means in Japanese.

nani!! sonna bakana!! なにぃ!!そんなばかな!!, "what!! [Something] that stupid [can't be]!!" phrase from manga Yotsubato! よつばと!

By the way, for those learning Japanese, note that since baka na! is cut sort it sometimes has a small tsu at the end of the phrase. That small tsu is purely phonetic and means nothing.
  • baka na! バカな!
    baka na'! バカなっ!
    (same thing)

1 comment:

  1. "The word bakana has literally nothing to do with 'stupid.'" I think that's where my confusion came from. I kept thinking it had to mean something related to stupidity. Thanks for the clarification.

    ReplyDelete

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