UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Intransitive verbs with transitive counterparts in Japanese : --with focus on ergative and middle-- Uchida, Miyo


In this thesis, I have examined intransitive verbs with transitive counterparts in Japanese. In accordance with the differences in their syntactic and semantic characteristics, I have considered that they are categorized into two, so-called ergative and middle verbs. There are various theories concerning "ergative" and "middle" verbs, especially "ergative" verbs since the term ergative is somewhat confusing. For instance, some linguists consider "ergative" verbs as underlyingly transitive verbs while others consider them as lexically intransitive verbs. I have hypothesized that "ergative" verbs are lexically intransitive and "middle" verbs are derived intransitive, and have attempted to support intransitivity or transitivity of those verbs from syntactic and semantic points of view, such as concerning passive possibility, implied agent, and so on. For example, "ergative" verbs seem to be passivized whereas "middle" verbs do not seem to be passivized since potentialization, which derives "middle" verbs, has a close relationship with passive. "Ergative" verbs do not necessarily have implied agent whereas "middle" verbs always seem to have implied agent and suggest underlying agent. My analysis seems to reveal the difference in transitivity between "ergative" and "middle" verbs and supports my hypothesis.

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