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On the Japanese passive form Ogawa, Nobuo

Abstract

The Japanese passive voice is quite different from that of English. This thesis is an attempt to investigate the nature of the passive form in Japanese in contrast to the English passive voice and to examine the reasons for the differences. An examination is made of the English passive voice, followed by a contrastive analysis of Japanese transitive-intransitive verbs. Results of the investigation show that to some extent, the usage of Japanese intransitive verbs resembles the passive voice in English. There are three chapters in this thesis. The first chapter deals with an historical discussion of the European passive voice, from the notions of the Greek grammarians to the theories of the transformationalists. Japanese traditional grammar is the subject of the second chapter. The gradual development of the discussion of verbs by Japanese grammarians is outlined. Also, the nature of transitive-intransitive verbs is dealt with and an extensive, though not exhaustive, list of root-related transitive-intransitive verbs is presented. In the final chapter, discussions of the passive forms, by various grammarians are presented. Thereafter, the passive forms are examined by dividing them into two major groups: the ordinary form and the adverse passive form. Each form is syntactically examined and illustrations from literary sources are included. Conclusions show that, semantically, the ordinary passive form is similar to the English passive voice, whereas, the adverse passive form indicates a strong emotional feeling. The romanization of Japanese examples is represented by using Kunrei-Shiki¹ except for the following: /shi/...si, /sha/...sya, /shu/...syu, /sho/...syo, /chi/…ti, /tsu/...tu, /cha/…tya, /chu/…tyu, /cho/...tyo, /ji/...zi These latter symbols represent the verbal and adjectival conjugations much easier than the ordinary Kunrei-Shiki. Syllabic /n/ is represented as N to avoid confusion between such morphemes /tani/ (valley) and /tan'i/ (credit), which are shown as tani and taNi, respectively. These symbols are only used for the examples in the text; Kunrei-Shiki is used for references. English translations of Japanese quotations are mine. Romanization approved by the Japanese Ministry of Education.

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