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All About Japanese Particles: やら (yara)

[Serie: All About Japanese Particles]

1. Joins nouns to indicate a non-exhaustive list of items: “such things as …; and, what with.”

Note: This usage is essentially the same as ya, to ka, and dano, although these three are used more often in the spoken language.

あの国の人たちは、戦争やら、インフレやらで大変でしょうね。
Ano kuni no hitotachi wa, sensō yara, infure yara de taihen deshō ne.
What with war, inflation, and the like, the people of that country must be having a hard time.

その大学には、イギリス人やらフランス人やら、色々な国の人がいますよ。
Sono daigaku ni wa, Igirisu-jin yara Furansu-jin yara, iroiro na kuni no hito ga imasu yo.
At that university there are people from various countries, such as England and France. (Lit., … such as Englishmen and Frenchmen.)

2. Used with words of opposite meaning, or with positive and negative forms of the same word. Ka can replace yara in this usage, but the latter is softer in tone: “whether, whether or not.”

久美ちゃんはこのお菓子が好きなのやら、嫌いなのやら何も言わないんです。
Kumi-chan wa kono okashi ga suki na no yara, kirai na no yara nani mo iwanai-n desu.
Kumi doesn’t say anything about whether she likes or dislikes this candy. / Kumi won’t say whether she likes the candy or not.

パーティーに行くのやら行かないのやら、はっきりして下さい。
Pātī ni iku no yara ikanai no yara, hakkiri shite kudasai.
Please make it clear [say, make up your mind, decide] whether or not you are going to the party.

3. Used with interrogative words, expresses uncertainty (in instances where wakaranai is not explicit, it is understood).

Note: This usage is similar to, but a little softer than, ka (#11, II-3).

あの犬はどこへ行ったのやら、分からないんですよ。
Ano inu wa doko e itta no yara, wakaranai-n desu yo.
I have no idea where that dog went.

研くんはどの大学に入れるやら、本当に心配です。
Ken-kun wa dono daigaku ni haireru yara, hontō ni shinpai desu.
I’m really worried about which university Ken will be able to get into.

4. Used at the end of a sentence, indicates a rhetorical question with negative implications: “I wonder.”

来年はどんな年になるやら。。。
Rainen wa donna toshi ni naru yara
I wonder what kind of year next year will be. / I wonder how next year will turn out.

日本の将来はどうなるやら。。。
Nippon no shōrai wa dō naru yara
I wonder what Japan’s future will be like. / I wonder about the future of Japan.

– Source: All about particles – A handbook of Japanese function words


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