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Isn't なさい derived from なさる?

healer

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なさる is the honorific form of する?
Teachers and parents often ask children to do something with "verb stem + なさい".
Has this "なさい" got anything to do with the honorific form なさる?
I'm just not too sure why a honorific form is used when a senior person is talking to a junior one.
 

jt_

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The short answer is, etymologically speaking, yes. In modern Japanese, however, -ます stem + なさい can be thought of simply as an imperative form, less blunt/direct than the 座れ/食べろ form but still an imperative and thus not as polite as request forms like ~てください.

As in your example, you'll often hear it used by parents and teachers when giving firm instructions/orders to children.

As a general study tip, there's nothing wrong with learning etymology to the extent that it helps you put the pieces of the language together, but you should always keep in mind that the linguistic origins of a phrase or word don't necessary have much (or any) bearing on how it's used in the modern language. (As a fun example, 貴様 started out as an honorific form for "you", as the kanji would suggest, and now it's essentially an expletive with a nuance along the lines of "you bastard".)

With ~なさい, at least, you can see some set phrases where it retains a polite/honorific nuance, like お休みなさい, お帰りなさい, and so forth.
 

xminus1

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貴様 started out as an honorific form for "you", as the kanji would suggest, and now it's essentially an expletive with a nuance along the lines of "you bastard"
Such a polite culture...Japanese even use an honorific to tell someone off...:LOL:
 

healer

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I apologize that I have asked too many questions. Sometimes I just can't help it. I've found the more I know about something the more it impressed me and helped me remember it. Moreover it is interesting to know of the details you provide. I believe etymology is also part of the culture and I'm interested to know that as well. Sometimes it also helped me to be sure of what I had gathered and guessed.

By the way when would one use the imperative form such as 座れ/食べろ you quoted? Only when one is angry or agitated?
I haven't found out how to conjugate the verbs to be in imperative form. Is it simple and straightforward?
 

jt_

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No need to apologize at all. There's totally nothing wrong with asking questions─I know I did the same as a student back in the days of yore. ;) I only said what I said because I think it's important to keep that sort of information compartmentalized in your brain so that you don't let it overly complicate your understanding of the modern language, which sometimes just requires memorizing and internalizing grammatical rules as they currently exist. (This would also go for Japanese speakers learning English, with all its many exceptions and irregular structures, of course.)

The rules for forming the imperative conjugation are quite straightforward.


As for when it's used, yes, it's quite a blunt and potentially rude form and should be used with care by beginning learners. That said, these things aren't so black and white in actual usage in the real world, and if you experience the living language as it's actually used in Japan, you'll often find that "blunt" and "rude" forms can be used with familiarity by especially male friends who share a close relationship. (You can think of it the way certain English speakers might say "you bastard" or "wanker", "motherf***er", etc. to a close friend as a term of endearment.)

In any event, it's always best to internalize the rules and then observe the language as used by native speakers to fill in the blanks and the nuances.

Hope this helps, and don't be afraid or embarrassed to keep asking questions!
 

Majestic

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座れ
A teacher might tell a student to sit down.
A boss might tell a junior employee to sit down.
A dog owner might be teaching his dog the command for "sit".
There are many, many situations where this will be appropriate.

Same for 食べろ. There are many situations where a superior, or senior, or person of authority might tell somebody to eat.
 
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