Tuesday, December 17, 2019

meireikei 命令形

In Japanese, the meireikei 命令形 is one of the six basic inflectable forms of verbs and adjectives.

For example, shine! 死ね!, "die!" is the meireikei of shinu 死ぬ, "to die."

Conjugation

For reference, how to conjugate the meireikei.

Meireikei Conjugation Table
~!
Irregular Verbs
kuru
くる
koi
こい
suru
する
shiro
しろ
seyo
せよ
Godan Verbs
kau
買う
kae
買え
kaku
書く
kake
書け
oyogu
泳ぐ
oyoge
泳げ
korosu
殺す
korose
殺せ
katsu
勝つ
kate
勝て
shinu
死ぬ
shine
死ね
asobu
遊ぶ
asobe
遊べ
yomu
読む
yome
読め
kiru
切る
kire
切れ
Ichidan Verbs
kiru
着る
kiro
着ろ
kiyo
着よ
taberu
食べる
tabero
食べろ
tabeyo
食べよ
i-Adjectives
kawaii
可愛い
na-Adjectives
kirei na
綺麗な
Jodoushi 助動詞
masu
ます
mase
ませ
desu
です

For godan verbs, the meireikei ends in the ~e vowel, similar to the kateikei 仮定形.

The verb suru する and ichidan verbs have two meireikei, one ending in ~ro ~ろ and another in ~yo ~よ.

The words shiro, kiro, tabero, and so on are the ones people actually use in spoken language, while seyo, kiyo, tabeyo are the literary variants sometimes used in anime by characters who are kings, emperors, etc. when they're giving orders to their subjects or other grandiose commands.
  • kengen seyo! Roodo Kyamerotto!
    顕現せよ! ロードキャメロット!
    Manifest! Lord Camelot!
    • —Fate/Grand Order.

Grammar

The term meireikei translates literally to "imperative form." The word meirei 命令 means "order," and in grammar an imperative sentence is one that gives an order to someone.
  • damaru
    黙る
    To be quiet.
    To shut up.
  • damare!!!
    黙れ!!!
    BE SILENT!!!
    SHUT UP!!!

This is where the problem starts.

Japanese has multiple imperative expressions. For example:
  • damatte
    黙って
    (same meaning.)
  • damari-nasai
    黙りなさい
    (also same meaning.)
  • damari na
    黙りな
    (still same meaning.)
  • damaru na!
    黙るな!
    Don't shut up!
    • A negative imperative.

However, only damare is the meireikei of damaru. Why is that?

Because, in Japanese conjugation, damare is the stem of damaru, damar~, plus ~e.

Meanwhile, damari-nasai is composed by the ren'youkei 連用形 of damaru plus the ~nasai auxiliary. The word damatte is the te-form (ren'youkei plus the ~te ~て auxiliary) used as an imperative.

The phrases damari na 黙りな and damaru na are the ren'youkei and shuushikei 終止形 respectively plus the sentence-ending particle na な.

In other words, the other imperative expressions are composed by one form of damaru (ren'youkei, etc.), plus something else, while the so-called meireikei is just a form of damaru, plus nothing else.

Depending on what you're reading, the term meireikei may refer to damari-nasai, too, since the nasai form is an imperative form. In this article, to avoid confusion, the term meireikei will only refer to damare, and not to other imperatives.

Usage

The meireikei is used without any other suffixes to give orders around.
  • ike!!!
    行け!!!
    Go!!!

You don't really need exclamation points, either, I'm just adding them because it makes it easier to visualize the orders.
  • ike
    行け
    Go.

Normally, people won't be screaming orders around in Japanese like lunatics, so you're more likely to see these in anime.
  • kakatte koi!!!
    かかってこい!!!
    Bring [it] on!!! (phrase used when starting a fight.)
    • kakatte kuru
      かかってくる
      To bring [it] on.
  • ute! uchi-korose!
    撃て!撃ち殺せ!
    Shoot! Shoot and kill [him]!

Furthermore, as mentioned previously, there are different ways to create imperative sentences in Japanese.

In fact, there are over one hundred ways to tell someone to do something in Japanese.(正宗, 2000)
  • ganbare!
    頑張れ!
    Hang on there!
  • ganbatte!
    頑張って!
    (same meaning.)
  • ganbari-nasai!
    頑張りなさい
    (same.)

So even when someone has to give an order to someone else, it's not certain they will use the meireikei or something else.

According to Masamune (正宗, 2000:115), the word kake 書け, "write [it]," is used mostly by men, not by women, while kaki-nasai 書きなさい and kaite 書いて are used by both genders. In other words, the meireikei is used more by men than by women.

Of course, that's from 2000, so maybe things changed in two decades. Yes. It's been two decades. I repeat: the year 2000 was 19 years ago.

見ろよ, ここに血のアトみたいに転々と・・・・・・
Manga: Hikaru no Go ヒカルの碁 (Chapter 1, 棋聖降臨)
  • Context: Hikaru ヒカル, who is a boy, says something.
  • miro yo

    Look!
    • He's telling someone to "look" at something, so this is an imperative sentence, a command.
  • koko ni chi no ato mitai ni tenten to......
    ここに血のアトみたいに点々・・・・・・
    In here, [something that] looks like blood marks [is stuck] in drops.
    • ato

      Something left behind by something else, usually as evidence.
      Tracks, traces, marks, scars, etc.
    • tenten to
      点々と
      Scattered around as drops, dots, points.

A common way for the meireikei to be used is with an auxiliary verb like kureru くれる, "to do [something] for [me]." For example:
  • oshiete kure
    教えてくれ
    Tell [it] to [me] for [me].
    Tell [me].
  • nanka itte kure
    なんか言ってくれ
    Say something for [me].
    Say something. (I'm begging you!)
  • shinjite kure
    信じてくれ
    Trust [me] for [me].
    Please trust [me].

その「長名さん」っていうのやめてくれよ。 ボクと只野くんの仲じゃないか。 昔みたいに「なじみ」って呼んでくれ。 ピョコピョコ
Manga: Komi-san wa, Comyushou desu. 古見さんは、コミュ症です。 (Chapter 10, 黒歴史です)
  • Context: a childhood friend of Tadano 只野 wants to be called on first-name basis, without a honorific suffix.
  • sono "Osana-san" tte iu no
    yamete kure yo.

    その長名さん」っていうのやめてくれよ。
    Please stop with that "Osana-san."
    • Stop calling me "Osana-san"
  • boku to Tadano-kun no naka janai ka.
    ボクと只野くんの仲じゃないか。
    It's mine and Tadano's relationship, isn't it?
    • It's our relationship, isn't it?
    • Osana-san means they don't have a cold, distant, family-name basis relationship, they have an intimate, friendly, first-name basis relationship.
  • pyoko-pyoko
    ピョコピョコ
    *[hair] bounce bounce* (mimetic word.)
  • mukashi mitai ni
    "Najimi" tte
    yonde kure.

    昔みたいに「なじみ」って呼んでくれ
    Like old times, call me "Najimi."

The polite masu ます jodoushi also has a meireikei, so it's possible to use imperative sentences that are also polite, as far as grammar is concerned.
  • irasshaimase
    いらっしゃいませ
    Come in. (polite)
    • Expression used to welcome someone into a store.
    • irassharu
      いらっしゃる
      To come.
    • A respectful variant of kuru くる.
    • The ~ru becomes ~i due to i-onbin イ音便 on the ren'youkei ~ri.
  • douka o-yurushi kudasaimase
    どうかお許しくださいませ
    Please give [me] [your] permission.
    Please give [me] [your] forgiveness.
    Please forgive [me].
    • kudasaru
      くださる
      To give.
    • A respectful variant of kureru くれる.
    • The word kudasai ください comes from kudasaimase.

Adjectives

Adjectives don't have a meireikei. However, it's possible to create an imperative expression using the ren'youkei plus the hojo-doushi 補助動詞 aru ある. This happens because just adding the verb aru ある doesn't really change the meaning of the adjective. Observe:
  • utsukushii
    美しい
    To be beautiful.
  • utsukushiku aru
    美しくある
    (same meaning.)

Since aru ある is a verb, it's possible to conjugate it to its meireikei.
  • utsukushiku are
    美しくあれ
    Be beautiful.

In classical Japanese, adjectives do have a meireikei:
  • utsukushikare
    美しかれ
    (same meaning.)

This is literally just ~ka are ~くあれ contracted into ~kare ~かれ. Forms of adjectives created in this way are called kari-katsuyou カリ活用, "kari-conjugation," because the ren'youkei (~ku ari) is ~kari.

In modern Japanese, instead of conjugating adjectives to the meireikei, the adjectives are conjugated to their adverbial forms, and the intransitive verb naru なる, "to become," is used in the meireikei nare なれ. For example:
  • utsukushiku naru
    美しくなる
    To become beautiful.
  • utsukushiku nare
    美しくなれ
    Become beautiful.
  • kirei da
    綺麗だ
    To be pretty.
  • kirei ni nare
    綺麗になれ
    Become pretty.

This also works with nouns, since the predicative copula da can come after them:
  • shinwa da
    神話だ
    To be a legend.
  • {{{zankoku na} tenshi no} you ni}
    shounen yo, {shinwa ni} nare

    残酷な天使のように
    少年よ 神話になれ
    {Like a {{cruel} angel}},
    boy, become {a legend}.

The verb naru なる, "to become [something]," forms an ergative verb pair with the verb suru する, "to make [something] become [something else]." Depending on the sentence, the meireikei of suru する is used instead. For example:
  • kanojo wo shiawase ni shiro
    彼女を幸せにしろ
    Make her become happy.
    Make her happy.

Sometimes it's more complicated than that. For example:
  • heya wo kirei ni shiro
    部屋を綺麗にしろ
    Make the room become pretty.
    Make the room pretty.
    • Why is the room not "pretty"?
    • Because it's dirty.
    • So this phrase means:
    • Clean up the room.

Another tricky imperative:
  • souzoushii! shizuka ni seyo!
    騒々しい!静かにせよ
    [You] are noisy! [BE SILENT]!
    • —Overlord, Season 3.

In the sentence above, shizuka ni suru is used instead of shizuka ni naru because of what shizuka means.
  • {shizuka na} basho
    静かな場所
    A place [that] {is quiet}.
    A quiet place.

Since the adjective is about whether the place is quiet or not, and not about whether people in that place are being quiet or not, if you used shizuka ni nare you'd be telling the place to "become quiet."

You can't order a physical place around, so it doesn't work.

Instead, shizuka ni seyo, shizuka ni shiro is used instead: "make [this place] become quiet." In other words: "be silent."

Note: the difference between damaru and shizuka ni suru is that damaru means to stop talking (for a person to become quiet), while shizuka ni suru can also mean to stop making noise by slapping, slapping, and clapping at the tune of We Will Rock You (for a place to become quiet).

Beware that suru する can also mean "to do."
  • hayaku shiro
    早くしろ
    Do [it] quickly.
    Make [something] become quick.

References

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