Friday, August 30, 2019

Ergative Verb Pairs

Among verb types, an ergative verb pair refers to an intransitive-transitive verb pair, where the subject of the intransitive is the object of the transitive, and the transitive expresses the causation of the intransitive event. Although there are some exceptions, like ditransitive verbs.

For example: ageru 上げる, "to raise," and agaru 上がる, "to rise," form an ergative verb pair both in English and in Japanese. If "you raise something" (object), you cause: "something rises." (subject)

Unaccusative Verbs

Among verb types, unaccusative verbs are intransitive verbs whose subject is the patient of the action. For example:
  • nan'i-do wo ageru
    To raise the difficult-level.
    • nan'i-do wo - patient, accusative case.
  • nan'i-do ga agaru
    The difficult-level rises.
    • nan'i-do ga - patient, nominative case.

Above, agaru is an unaccusative verb, and ageru is its lexical causative verb counterpart. Together, they form an ergative verb pair. The article about the verb pairs contains details on how both types of verbs work in Japanese.

By the way, the opposite of an unaccusative verb is called an unergative verb, whose subject is the agent, unless in passive voice.

Lexical Causative Verbs

Among verb types, lexical causative verbs are transitive verbs that form causative sentences without being conjugated to the causative form. For example:
  • musume ga naku
    The daughter cries.
  • musume wo nakasu
    To cause: the daughter cries.
    To make the daughter cry.

Above, we have the intransitive verb naku 泣く, "to cry," and the lexical causative verb nakasu 泣かす, "to make cry." Together, they form an ergative verb pair. The article about verb pairs explains the grammar in detail. This article will focus only on the verbs themselves.

Causative Sentences

In Japanese, "causatives," shieki 使役, happen when the subject of a sentence causes a causee to perform an action, where "causing" means either "forcing" or "allowing." Causative sentences usually feature verbs in the causative form, like suru する becoming saseru させる.

For example: kekkon saseta 結婚させた is a causative meaning either "[a causer] made [a causee] marry [someone]" or "[a causer] let [a causee] marry [someone]."
Monday, August 26, 2019

Suffering Passive

In Japanese, the suffering passive is when a sentence in passive voice has a subject that's negatively affected by an action without being directly involved in it. For example:
  • Tarou ga ame ni furareta
    Tarou is suffering because:
    • ame ga futta
      The rain fell from the sky.
      The rain is raining.
      It's raining.
    • Implicature: Tarou is inconvenienced by the rain.
  • Tarou ga Hanako ni shinareta
    Tarou is suffering because:
    • Hanako ga shinda
      Hanako died.
    • Implicature: Tarou was a friend of Hanako.

They're also called adversity passives or "indirect passives," kansetsu-ukemi 間接受身.

Passive Voice

In grammar, the passive voice is when the subject and object appear to switch roles. In active voice, the subject is generally the agent and the object is the patient: the cat ate the rat. In passive voice, the subject is the patient instead: the rat was eaten by the cat.

In Japanese, the passive voice, ukemi 受け身, is identified by the verb being in the passive form: suru する "to do," is active voice, sareru される "to be done," is passive voice. The way particles are used in the passive voice is different, and there are different types of passives.
Friday, August 23, 2019

Double Subject Constructions

In Japanese, a double-subject construction is when you have two subjects in a single sentence, called large subject and small subject, where the predicate of the large subject is a predicative clause containing the small subject plus the small subject's predicate.

In practice: zou ga hana ga nagai 象が鼻が長い, "elephants have long noses," or "about elephants: about [their] noses: long," has the large subject zou predicated by the clause hana ga nagai, which contains the small subject hana predicated by nagai.

The patterns ABがC, ABがC, ABがC, AにはBがC, BがC, C, ABC, ABC, among others often form double-subject sentences. Among these, some have two nominative subjects, and thus are also called double-nominative sentences.
Monday, August 19, 2019

で vs. に

In this article I'll explain the difference between the de で particle and the ni に particle. Note that one particle has a mountain of different functions, while the other one has a Mt. Fuji of different functions, and not all of them will be discussed in this article.

Check the particles' respective articles for further details.