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|Title:||Setting the Scene: A Comparative Study of the '-te aru' Construction and the Attributive Passive in Japanese|
|Abstract:||Broadly speaking, the ‘-te aru’ construction and the ‘attributive passive’ construction in Japanese are both de-transitivized, stative constructions that serve to set the scene for the ongoing discourse. In many cases, the constructions can be substituted for one another, and native speakers often find it difficult to identify a clear difference in meaning between the two. Previous research on these constructions, however, has ignored their functional similarities, and has attempted to explain their uses quite separately. In this paper we identify and account for the basic functions of these two constructions, as well as their similarities and their differences. We start by considering them in the context of a far more widely discussed, and more frequently used, derived stative construction in Japanese, a construction that involves an intransitive rather than a transitive verb root. We go on to consider examples of these two de-transitivized stative constructions, starting with cases in which they seem to be virtually interchangeable, and then refining our understanding of their functions by considering cases in which they cannot be substituted for one another. Our basic findings relate to the degree of semantic transitivity of the two constructions. Although the -te aru construction has previously been characterized as describing perfect aspect, and as not allowing an overt Actor (Martin 1975, Miyagawa 1988 and Hasegawa 1996), when we compare it with the ‘attributive passive’, we find that it is comparatively the more transitive, and thus more agentive of the two. The ‘attributive passive’, on the other hand, is highly objective and stative. Nevertheless, the fact that the verb root in this construction, as in the -te aru construction, is transitive rather than intransitive means that the relevance of an Actor to the state described can still be detected.|
|Appears in Collections:||ALS 2004|
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