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Subject: two-place verbs and cases
From: TAKASUGI Shinji (tssf.airnet.ne.jp)
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2001 01:02:18 GMT
References: 1


Before answering your question, I'd like to explain cases and grammatical relations.

According to 角田 太作 (TSUNODA Tasaku), a comparative linguist in Japan, it's important to know there are four different levels of sentence analysis. People often don't distinguish them properly, which makes confusion.


1. Case
A case is a noun's grammatical form given by inflection or an adposition (preposition/postposition). In Japanese, が (ga) is the nominative marker, and を (o) is the accusative marker.

2. Grammatical relation
A grammatical relation is how a noun works in a sentence. Human languages always have the two basic grammatical relations: the subject and the object. A grammatical relation is usually related to a case, but not always. For instance, me in the sentence "It's me" is a complement, even though it is accusative, which case is commonly used for the object.

3. Information structure
Information structure is how old information and new information are told. Topics and focuses are worldwide concepts of information structure. The Japanese topic marker は (wa) is likely to mark a subject, but it sometimes marks an object and other grammatical relations.

4. Semantic role
A semantic role is a word's role in a viewpoint of meaning. There are many semantic roles such as the agent, the patient, the recipient, and the experiencer. It's not so important as the three abovementioned levels.

Remember these levels are all different. It's misleading to think a word is a subject simply because it's nominative or it's an agent. Cases and grammatical relations have a relationship, but it's not one-to-one correspondence.

When you think about cases and grammatical relations of two-place verbs (verbs that have two parameter nouns), the following chart is useful.

TSUNODA Tasaku's two-place verb hierarchy:

Type1A1B2A2B34567
TransitivityHighestLowest
MeaningDirect effectPerceptionSeekingKnowledgeEmotionRelationshipAbility
ChangeNo changeSeeingLooking
Examplekill
destroy
hit
kick
see
hear
find
look
listen
wait
seek
know
understand
remember
love
hate
want
have
resemble
consist
good
capable
JapaneseNom-AccNom-Acc
Nom-Dat
Nom-AccNom-AccNom-Acc



Dat-Nom
Nom-Acc
Nom-Dat
Nom-Nom

Dat-Nom
Nom-Acc
Nom-Dat

Nom-Abl
Dat-Nom

Nom-Dat
Nom-Nom

Dat-Nom
EnglishNom-AccNom-Acc
Nom-at
Nom-on
Nom-into
Nom-Acc
Nom-at
Nom-to
Nom-Acc
Nom-for
Nom-Acc
Nom-of
Nom-Acc
Nom-of
Nom-with
Nom-Acc
Nom-to
Nom-in
Nom-of

Nom-at
Nom-of
Nom-in
BasqueErg-AbsErg-Abs
Erg-Dat
Erg-AbsErg-Abs
Erg-Dat
Erg-Abs
Erg-Dat
Dat-Abs
Erg-Abs
Erg-Dat
Dat-Abs
Erg-Abs

Dat-Abs
Erg-Abs 
TibetanErg-Abs
Erg-Dat
Erg-Abs
Erg-Dat
Erg-Abs
Erg-Dat
Erg-AbsErg-Abs

Abs-Dat
Dat-Abs



Dat-Abs
 
JaruErg-AbsErg-AbsErg-Abs
Abs-Dat
Erg-Abs
Abs-Dat
Erg-Abs
Abs-Dat
Abs-Loc
Erg-Abs
Abs-Dat

Abs-Abs
 


Nom: Nominative, 主格 (しゅかく) (が in Japanese)
Acc: Accusative, 対格 (たいかく) (を in Japanese)
Dat: Dative, 与格 (よかく) (に in Japanese)
Abl: Ablative, 奪格 (だっかく) (から in Japanese)
Erg: Ergative, 能格 (のうかく)
Abs: Absolutive, 絶対格 (ぜったいかく)
Loc: Locative, 所格 (しょかく) (で in Japanese)

Type 1A includes typical transitive verbs. It has only the nominative-accusative pair in many languages and the ergative-absolutive pair in some languages. The higher transitivity a verb has, the more easily you can make a passive sentence using it, if the language has passive sentences. For example, you can easily say "John was bumped into by Mary" because bump (into) is a Type 1B verb, even though traditional English grammar categorizes it as an intransitive verb. On the other hand, you can't say "His father is resembled by him", because resemble is a Type 6 verb.

Adjectives (including adjectival nouns, or -na adjectives, in Japanese) appear from the right side. English examples are shown below:
Type 5: Bill is fond of Jane.
Type 6: Your idea is similar to mine.
Type 7: He is good at English.

It's nothing strange to have case pairs other than the nominative-accusative pair in the right side of the chart. Example: (Spanish) Me gusta mucho viajar. (Russian) Mne nravitsja kniga.

Now, let's think about your question. A Japanese two-place emotional adjective requires a nominative-nominative pair, which is not strange because the right side of the chart contains many case pairs. The subject is the person who has emotion, and the object is a thing that makes the subject have the emotion. The adjective urayamashii needs a target of jealousy as an object. So its literal translation is to be jealous of, not just to be jealous. In addition, the subject must be a topic when you talk about emotion, and it is almost always omitted if it is the speaker. If you just say "Kare ga urayamashii", it always means "(I am) jealous of him". Remember the nominative marker ga marks the object here. It's the same as "(Watashi wa) okane ga hoshii." and "(Watashi wa) kare ga nikui."

It's true it is confusing for foreigners if both the subject and the object of a two-place emotional adjective are humans. You can use the noun koto to clarify the object is the target of an emotion, such as in "Watashi wa kare no koto ga urayamashii." and "Tarô wa Hanako no koto ga suki da."

By the way, adjectives that end with "shii" are subjective in general, while other adjectives are objective. Tanoshii, utsukushii, and oishii are all based on your impression, while akai, chiisai, and omoi are all based on facts. This difference was clear in ancient Japanese, but it's not clear now.



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