What's new

やもうえない and やむをえない

Joined
Aug 15, 2016
Messages
7
I was playing a game in Japanese recently, and at one point a character said (not voice acted) "やむをえまい"... When I saw that, I didn't quite notice the ま and I was sure it was supposed to be やもうえない. But I realized I'd never actually seen it written before. I'd only heard it. So I looked up やもうえない to see if I was just crazy, and apparently it's an incorrect form of やむをえない. At that point I realized the character said まい rather than ない... So I have two questions, now.

1. Is やむをえまい actually a thing, or was this just a typo? That's my assumption since the context fit perfectly with やむをえない as far as I understood it, but I want to make sure.
2. How did やもうえない come about if it's incorrect? Is that approximately how やむをえない is supposed to be pronounced (sort of like how いう is meant to be pronounced more like ゆ), and people mistakenly started typing it that way instead? Or is it more a matter of people pronouncing やむをえない in a speedy/lazy fashion that lead to people thinking it was actually やもうえない?

Sorry if my second question is a bit too linguisticy for this, or if this isn't exactly the right section. I'm new here, after all, and it seemed like the most fitting place for this...
 

Hoge

破落戸
Joined
Dec 28, 2014
Messages
80
Ratings
7
Or is it more a matter of people pronouncing やむをえない in a speedy/lazy fashion that lead to people thinking it was actually やもうえない?
Yes, it's just like some English speakers write "would have" as "would of".
 

undrentide

Japa'n vagyok
Joined
Jan 18, 2006
Messages
3,621
Ratings
305
1. I've never seen やむをえまい actually in use but grammaticaly it is possible.
〜まい is negative assumption
e.g.
これなら相手も気付くまい(=気づかないだろう)
http://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/jn/206684/meaning/m0u/まい/

2. If people say やむをえない very quickly or not clearly enough, it may sound やもーえない。But people who say it means やむをえない and people never write やもうえない. Even their pronounciation sounds like やもうえない, what in their mind is やむをえない。 If someone writes やもうえない instead of やむをえない, it simply means the person does not know the correct phrase. ;-)
 
Joined
Aug 15, 2016
Messages
7
Thank you very much, both hoge and undrentide!
Come to think of it, I have heard 〜まい used that way before, but just like you, I hadn't seen it with this word before.
 

Hoge

破落戸
Joined
Dec 28, 2014
Messages
80
Ratings
7
やむをえない is from 止(や)む+を+得る+ない
"can't stop".
Beseides やむをえまい, it derives such forms as やむをえず、やむをえざる、やむをえぬ、やむをえません etc.
 
Last edited:

Toritoribe

松葉解禁
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Feb 22, 2008
Messages
14,837
Ratings
2 1,539
Come to think of it, I have heard 〜まい used that way before, but just like you, I hadn't seen it with this word before.
Since the auxiliary verb まい is originally from the euphonic change of a classical auxiliary verb まじ, it sounds a bit classical and therefore is often used in written language, especially in period dramas, as in the following examples in a corpus search result. ~ざるをえまい is also commonly used, probably you've ever heard.

わが防衛庁と自衛隊にとっては、最悪のシナリオになりつつあるのは無念の極みだが、やむをえまい
氷雪の殺人 内田康夫著

苦肉の策だが、無駄な流血を防ぐにはやむをえまい」半兵衛は淡々と告げた。
覇王・信長 元亀争乱・信長の危機 吉岡道夫著

大局をおもんぱかればやむをえまい。
巴御前 鈴木輝一郎著

費用が更にかさんでもやむをえまい。
天保山夢の川さらえ 向山正家著

彼の手足は急に跳ね上ったり震えたりするが、これはアル中なのだから、やむをえまい。
愛と笑いの夜 ヘンリー・ミラー著 吉行淳之介訳

張りつめた神経が、どこかゆるんだのはやむを得まい。
妖魔男爵 菊地秀行著

「止むを得まい」とこの話を打ち切ったが、
峠の群像 中 堺屋太一著

子供たちが少々無茶をしても止むを得まい、と思っている良民が多い。 
中南海の「最高機密」 小公望著

戦さに負けたから社会が混乱するのは止むを得まいが、
味覚 大河内正敏著
 
Top