Studies in the Japanese Language
Online ISSN : 2189-5732
Print ISSN : 1349-5119
Origin of the Potential Verb in Japanese
Toshihiro MIYAKE
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2016 Volume 12 Issue 2 Pages 1-17


This paper discusses how the potential verb came into being. There are three theories that discuss its origin: the theory on the origins of “reru” of “eru” and the theory analyzing shimo-ni (ichi) dan, an intransitive verb like “kiruru>kireru”. As the result of this investigation, “yomuru” in the Late Middle Period narrates the general potential attribute with objects without agents. This aspect was confirmed to relate with the potential verb in the Early Modern Period from lexical, semantic, and syntactic perspectives.

On the other hand, the forms “reru” and “eru” are completely different from potential verbs like “yomeru”. Furthermore, this paper uses this premise to reason that the relationship between shimo-ni (ichi)dan, an intransitive verb conjugation, and yodan, a transitive verb conjugation that predicates the attributes, is similar to the correspondence to potential verbs and yodan, a transitive verb conjugation.

Hence, It concludes that the potential verb was established with an analogical inference to shimo-ni(ichi)dan, an intransitive verb conjugation, which predicates the attributes.

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