Syntax and semantics of the existentials ar-u and i-ru in Japanese : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Japanese Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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Massey University
This thesis is a descriptive study of the Existentials ar-u and i-ru in contemporary standard Japanese. The study encompasses not only the lexical-verb usages of ar-u and i-ru, which are referred to as Lexical Existentials, or LEs, in this thesis, but also the auxiliary-verb usages, which are referred to as Grammatical Existentials, or GEs. The reasons for undertaking the present study are: (i) the true characteristics of the Japanese Existentials have not been understood accurately in linguistic-typological studies of Existential constructions due to a paucity of purely descriptive studies on the subject published in English; (ii) although a large body of Japanese literature on the nature of both LEs and GEs now exists, it is still fragmentary and a comprehensive account has yet to be produced; (iii) most studies adhere to previously accepted concepts, such as the strict dichotomy between monovalent intransitives and bivalent (or multivalent) transitives, without questioning the validity of such concepts, and, in consequence, the explanations fail to elucidate the fundamental nature of ar-u and i-ru. I first claim that LEs are bivalent verbs, contrary to the conventional view that they are monovalent verbs. I then demonstrate that recognition of the bivalent nature of the Japanese LE leads to a unified analysis for various LE constructions, including those which denote the existence of a possessive relation and those which anticipate the existence of a future event. I divide GEs into two categories: verbaliser-GEs that turn nominals into verbal predicates, and stativiser-GEs that turn active verbal predicates into stative verbal predicates. I argue that the former preserve the bivalent properties inherited from the LE to a significant extent, whereas the latter do not. I also show that stativiser-GEs serve not only as aspect markers but also as quasi-evidential markers. The significance of this research project is: (1) the provision of a new framework for analysing the LEs ar-u and i-ru in contemporary standard Japanese, based on the assumption that they are bivalent verbs; (2) the application of the same framework to an investigation of the GEs in order to shed light on the continuity between the LEs and the Ges.
Japanese language, Grammar, Verbs, Existentials