And kanji with manga
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 adjectival copula na な, which creates na-adjectives. So it isn't even one word. It's two words.
  • baka na oniisan バカなお兄さん
    Stupid older brother.

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]!

  • 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!! ...できるわけがない!!
    ...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)


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  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.

  2. Not sure if I should take this seriously, since you combined "Kami" and the honorific "sama" in the same word xP
    It should be "Kami-sama"

    1. Maybe because in actual Japanese there are no dashes to separate words, 神様 (かみさま) and not 神-様 (かみ-さま) Hehe!

  3. it is confusing, because not only is there Ba ka na ばかな/バカ な theres also bagana ばがな which mean stupid/fool etc. to be honest though, i never heard a B, i heard an F, so not a Ba sound but a Fa sound, because of how fast the first syllable is, so i thought they were saying fakana, turns out 'fuka na ふかな' means stupid, unless written like this 'fuka na 不可な' where it means impossible. as for the word impossible that can also be '不可能 Fukanō' so more confusing stuff for us english speakers just learning japanese.

  4. Then what is bakara and bakayaro mean?

    1. I'm pretty sure the literal translation of that is actually 2 words: Baka and Yaro, Yaro meaning "bastard". So literally "stupid bastard".