East Asian Writing Systems

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Demashita is the polite past form of the verb deru 'to go out, leave'. Normally it would be written , as in the following sign:

Demashita! Okuman-chōja!!!
We have a millionaire!!!

But in the following sign, a feature of Yamanote stations in Tokyo for at least 30 years, and probably a lot longer, demashita appears in hiragana as :

Kondo no densha wa Ookubo o demashita.
The next train has left Okubo.

As well as demashita, the word kondo 'next' and the name of the station are also in hiragana. Only densha is left in Chinese characters. The intent is clearly to eliminate clutter and make the sign clear and legible for even children to read. In this it succeeds. The sign would be less friendly if written, say, .

A Google search in August 2003 revealed the following pattern of usage for demashita on the Internet:

No. of occurrences

The extent to which hiragana is used for this everyday verb is remarkable.


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