What does やか mean?

I noticed that a lot na adjectives finish with やか (eg: 賑やか, 穏やか, 爽やか, 鮮やか, 緩やか, 華やか…) and I was wondering

  1. what does it mean (if anything at all)
  2. is there a kanji for it

It’s just another way to form an adjective, but it is no longer productive (used to make new adjectives in the language). As such, it doesn’t have any meaning in and of itself. Like how “ish” makes adjectives in English, but doesn’t stand alone (though, in contrast, “ish” is still productive in English, like I can say WaniKani-ish and it sounds okay).

Occasionally you’ll find roots that have both this style of ending and an い ending.


But I’m pretty sure they do usually have differences in meanings.

Since these words are all kunyomi, the やか part is not within a kanji reading.


I always used to call this an exclusive club. So it was in reverse for me, as in: ~やか adjectives are in an exclusive club, so you can’t make your own.
Is ‘productive’ the official name of this grammar concept, or one that you made up?

It’s a linguistics term.


I’m not so sure about that… Cuz many kunyomi words like kosoado words have kanji. kore alone has 此, 是、之、維、and 惟

Yeah, sure… but this is like the しい of an adjective, it’s external to the main part that has the meaning and thus the associated kanji. If you look at any of these words, you’ll see one main kanji for the part that holds the content of the word, and then やか.

If a kanji existed, it’d be in the full reading for any of them.

The endings of kunyomi that fall outside of kanji generally don’t have kanji with them… that’s where the “kanji + hiragana = kunyomi” rule of thumb comes from.

I guess what I said wasn’t clear.

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Would’ve been cool if the Japanese scholars from way back would’ve created an ‘adjective kanji’ and added it to しい or やか, so for example 新しい would be 新容 and would be 賑やか would be 賑容 (the 容 coming from 形容詞) or some other kanji. But :man_shrugging:

Seems like that would be a big change to the way Japanese words are rendered into kanji, since nothing includes kanji that tells you what part of speech it is.

Also, しい conjugates, so that’s one reason it can’t be inside the kanji. やか doesn’t conjugate, but I feel like it’s still thought of as being appended.

Is there some advantage you see to it? Seems like やか already makes it clear what part of speech something is.

Totally forgot about that, so ur right

no… but I always like it more when things are concise
So for example (not sure if ur a programmer, so if ur not sorry) in programming you can set up variables for things and then do things with the variables (im terrible at explaining things), so you can either set up multiple variables for various different things and then have them interact, or how i like to do things, don’t set up any variables (or maybe just one so that I can store the result) and just chain everything that would’ve been done with multiple lines using multiple variables in one line through dot notation.

I have done programming (I made some flash games in using Flixel back in the day) but it’s been like 4 years since the last time I did that.

It’s not critical that I grasp why you’d prefer it that way.

On a side note, is your name really Craburn, as in crab-burn, as in the goal of waniwani?:laughing:

My real name has no connection to “James Craburn.” That was assigned to me by WK back when sect names were all the rage. Fewer people thought it was my name when it said “Sect James Craburn” in the old forum style.

I assume it’s both a reference to what you said and the actor James Coburn. It just appeared on my account one day with no explanation, like all sect names, I suppose.

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