05
Sep
04

If it's not one thing, it's another…

Well, I got my Internet up, but now my domains are being screwed with. >_<

Anyway, this posting is mainly because I’ve just had a fascinating (enlightening, frustrating) discussion with Io on IRC about the status of -tai forms of verbs. I held that they are adjectives, and Io holds that they are verbs… I’ll let Io make her own argument, in fact. Which is the point of this post.

We also diverged quite strongly into the relationship between meaning and syntax, (an area in which I am much less surefooted) and I expect that too will prove a lively debate here.

(And of course, here I am reminded of my Pre-Honours assignment to monitor a mailing list for a month. Better go subscribe to something…)

Happy to hear comments from anyone else, too. I’ll present the best piece of evidence I could come up with for my position. Don’t worry, it’s short.

(Adjective) (1)
A: はなこが美しい。
B: めいこもそうだ。 (Constrasted to *B:めいこもそうする。)

(Verb) (2)
A: はなこがお菓子を食べる。
B: めいこもそうする。 (Contrasted to *B: めいこもそうだ。)

(Here, we can easily see that you can only use そうする cannot refer to a adjective, and そうだ cannot refer to a verb. そう itself appears to be a -する verb to me here.)

Those two examples were from Masayuki Ohkado (1991), “On the status of adjectival nouns in japanese.”. The constrast in (1) is my own, for thoroughness.

My argument here is that from the following:
(-たい form) (3)
A: はなこがお菓子を食べたい。
This is possible:
B: めいこもそうだ。
But this is not:
*B: めいこもそうする。
Which implies that the -たい form is an adjective like in (1) above, not a verb like (2) above.

(My example here glosses over the other effects the -たい form has, such as not being directly applicable like that to the third person.)

I could happily extend my argument here to the -ない form of a verb, as follows:
(-ない form) (4)
A: はなこがお菓子を食べない。
But I don’t know off hand which of these is good and which is bad, and which hold the same meanings and which the opposite meaning. ^_^
B: めいこもそうだ。(4-1)
B: めいこもそうじゃない。(4-2)
B: めいこもそうする。(4-3)
B: めいこもそうしない。(4-4)

For my argument to hold, then 4-1 would be correct, 4-3 wrong, and 4-2 and 4-4 ungrammatical irresepective of what came before.

Any native Japanese speakers reading this blog, and want to help out? ^_^;;

And to think this all started with the innocent question “How do I apply -saseru form to -tai?” (I answered that you can’t, -tai is an adjective. This is what I love about IRC. ^_^)


3 Responses to “If it's not one thing, it's another…”


  1. 2004年 9月 5日 at 3:51 am

    http://www.shododesigns.com/japaninformation/language4.htm
    Right down the bottom. Seems I’m not the only one who thinks that. ^_^

  2. 2 Minderbinder
    2004年 9月 9日 at 12:55 am

    > “How do I apply -saseru form to -tai?”

    Assuming you mean, apart from 〜させたい… How about from 〜たい to 〜たがる to 〜たがらせる? Google turned up “学校に行きたがらせる” – “make (them) want to go to school” is my guess at the translation.
    Of course, the fact that 〜たがる changes 〜たい into a verb suggests to me that the original is something other than a verb. This works on 欲しい, 欲しがる, so perhaps the 〜たい is an adjective after all (at least from some grammatical viewpoint).

  3. 2004年 9月 30日 at 10:10 pm

    〜させたい is “want to make X do Y”. What we were after is “make X want to do Y”.

    Excellent point about 〜がる. ^_^

    I’m gonna have to go look into how 〜がる works now.


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