ISSN: 2306-5737E-ISSN: 2658-4069
Acta Linguistica Petropolitana
Transactions of the Institute for Linguistic Studies
ISSN: 2306-5737E-ISSN: 2658-4069
Acta Linguistica Petropolitana
Transactions of the Institute for Linguistic Studies 

Japanese benefactives and direct-inverse systems

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Solomkina N. A. Yaponskiye benefaktivnyye konstruktsii i kategoriya inversiva. Acta Linguistica Petropolitana. 2021. 17(2): 184–204.

In this article, we examine Japanese benefactive constructions with auxiliary verbs yaru, ageru, kureru, and kudasaru with a view to their deictic properties. Some recent works describe the contrast between yaru / ageru / sashiageru ‘to give from the speaker’s domain’ and kureru / kudasaru ‘to give towards the speaker’s domain’ using the term “direct / inverse alignment”.

Our goal is to compare the actual usage of Japanese benefactive constructions with the canonical direct / inverse systems and with more broadly taken systems with direct / inverse alignment. This paper proceeds from the assumption that Japanese benefactives are quite distinct from the canonical direct / inverse systems. More importantly, even the person hierarchies used for describing direct / inverse alignment can be quite difficult to apply in their case due to the strong impact of the speaker’s empathy.

The paper pursues two goals: a theoretical (to find a most precise model to describe the actual usage) and a descriptive one (to analyze relevant examples from corpus data). In the theoretical part, we compare Japanese benefactive constructions with two general descriptions of direct / inverse systems. We show that, despite some similarities, Japanese benefactives also demonstrate distinct divergence from these. In the empirical part, we analyze corpus data with regard to their compliance with the direct / inverse alignment. Though only individual examples from our sample demonstrate incongruency of yaru / ageru and kureru / kudasaru with direct and inverse alignment respectively, these and similar examples from other sources need special attention. The choice of an auxiliary verb in Japanese benefactive constructions does not fully fit in the person / animacy hierarchy (direct / inverse alignment) system. The most adequate and brief description of participants’ possible grammatical person can only be provided in terms of “empathy” and “empathy hierarchy” (a hierarchy of psychological proximity). This solution actually makes the person/animacy hierarchy superfluous.

Japanese, benefactive constructions, corpus linguistics, direct-inverse systems, person hierarchy, directionality
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Japanese, benefactive constructions, corpus linguistics, direct-inverse systems, person hierarchy, directionality
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