The purpose of this paper is to reveal the functional behavior of ‘-ga aru’ sentences.
To begin with, I have examined grammatical functions inherent in the construction in question. It is argued that the ‘-ga aru’ construction serves as a functional verb combined with the preceding noun and shares its function with adjectives. Semantic evidence for this claim is that the construction is interchangeable with adjectives and can be rendered into adjectives in English translation. Its formal evidence, on the other hand, is gained from the following facts. Firstly, it can be modified by adverbs. Secondly, it is used with comparative expressions. Thirdly, the construction and descriptive adjectives exhibit the same restriction as to their cooccurrence with specific persons.
Next, I have examined its functions at a wider discourse level. A close examination shows that the following functions are attributed to the ‘-ga aru’ sentences: mental expressive function (expressive functions of thought, emotion, sense and desideration), volitional expressive function, eventive descriptive function, stative descriptive function, relative predicative function and attributive predicative function.
It goes without saying that the original lexical meaning of the verb aru is “to exist”, but the ‘-ga aru’ construction has come to be used as a functional verb. The various functions observed in the construction are derived from the intricate interaction between lexicon and grammar.
The Linguistic Society of Japan