Aspectual verbs as functional heads: evidence from Japanese aspectual verbs
- First Online:
- Cite this article as:
- Fukuda, S. Nat Lang Linguist Theory (2012) 30: 965. doi:10.1007/s11049-012-9171-7
- 620 Views
A novel analysis of aspectual verbs is proposed according to which aspectual verbs are heads of functional projections rather than main verbs taking clausal complements. As a case study, four Japanese aspectual verbs are analyzed: those that express inception (hajime- ‘begin’), continuation (tsuzuke- ‘continue’), and termination (oe- ‘finish’, and owar- ‘end’). Employing data from previous studies, Japanese aspectual verbs are shown to exhibit the following two characteristic behaviors: (i) they occasionally exhibit mono-clausal properties, and (ii) they impose different selectional restrictions on their verbal complements. These behaviors are characteristic of aspectual verbs cross-linguistically. This paper argues that these behaviors of Japanese aspectual verbs are accounted for if they are analyzed as heads of aspect phrases, the functional heads that encode aspectual information about events. In particular, it is proposed that (a) aspect heads occur in two positions in a clause, where they select for syntactic realizations of different event types, and (b) individual aspectual verbs are distributed differently between these two head positions based on the event types they select. The proposed analysis is shown to account for previously unaccounted for correlations between passivizability of the aspectual verbs and the event types of the verbal complements, as well as interactions between the Japanese aspectual verbs, subject honorification, and the focus particle -dake ‘only’. Finally, cross-linguistic data from previous studies on aspectual verbs in German, Italian and other Romance languages, and Basque are discussed and shown to provide further support for the proposed analysis.
KeywordsAspectual verbsAspect phrasesRestructuringLong passiveVerbal aspectJapanese
This study addresses two behaviors that are common among aspectual verbs across languages. First, as a natural class, aspectual verbs are often listed as restructuring verbs, which are verbs whose apparent clausal complements fail to constitute clausal domains. The restructuring behaviors of aspectual verbs have been reported in studies that investigated languages from genetically and geographically diverse families, including Austronesian (Chung 2004), Germanic (Wurmbrand 2001), Romance (Aissen and Perlmutter 1976, 1983; Strozer 1976; Rizzi 1978, 1982; Zagona 1982; Burzio 1986; Moore 1996; Cinque 1999, 2003, 2004), Dravidian (Agbayani and Shekar 2008), and language isolates such as Basque (Arregi and Molina-Azaola 2004) and Japanese (Shibatani 1973, 1978; Kuno 1987; Kageyama 1993, 1999; Nishigauchi 1993; Koizumi 1994, 1995, 1998; Matsumoto 1996). Second, many of these same studies report that not all aspectual verbs in a given language exhibit restructuring behaviors. These two observed behaviors raise the following questions: (i) why do aspectual verbs as a natural class often exhibit restructuring behaviors? And (ii), why do individual aspectual verbs exhibit syntactic differences?
This study has two major theoretical implications. First, it offers novel arguments for the hypothesis that there are functional heads that encode aspectual properties of events within and around the underlying structure of simple sentences (Travis 1991, 2000, 2005; Borer 1994, 1998, 2005; McClure 1995; Ramchand 1997, 2008; Diesing 1998; Ritter and Rosen 1998; van Hout 2000; Svenonius 2002; Nelson 2003; McIntyre 2004; Thompson 2005; MacDonald 2006, 2008; among others). In particular, this study argues that these functional heads can be occupied by overt elements, namely aspectual verbs. Second, this study contributes to the recent debate about the syntactic status of restructuring verbs as functional heads or lexical verbs (Cardinaletti and Guisti 2001; Wurmbrand 2001, 2004; Cinque 2003, 2004; among others). Specifically, this study argues that Japanese aspectual verbs are functional heads, and argues against the traditional analysis of aspectual verbs as lexical verbs that select for a clausal complement (i.e., control and raising verbs; see Shibatani 1978; Kageyama 1993, 1999; Nishigauchi 1993; Koizumi 1994, 1995, 1998; Matsumoto 1996; among others).
The paper is structured as follows. Section 2 presents the key data motivating the analysis proposed in this study. The data show that the four Japanese aspectual verbs, hajime- ‘begin’, tsuzuke- ‘continue’, oe- ‘finish’, and owar- ‘end’ exhibit different syntactic behaviors with respect to passivization, and they also impose different semantic restrictions on their verbal complements. Section 3 presents the proposed analysis of Japanese aspectual verbs as the functional heads L-Asp and H-Asp. Section 4 provides three supporting arguments for the proposed analysis from (i) additional passive data, (ii) subject honorification, and (iii) the focus marker -dake ‘only’. Section 5 presents arguments against the traditional analysis of Japanese aspectual verbs as control and raising verbs, and provides arguments for the functional status of these aspectual verbs. Section 6 reviews three previous studies on aspectual verbs from other languages in order to show that the proposed analysis is not only compatible with the findings from these studies, but also that it is supported by them. Section 7 concludes.
2 Syntactic and semantic differences among the four Japanese aspectual verbs
In this section, two key data sets are introduced to illustrate syntactic and semantic differences among Japanese aspectual verbs hajime- ‘begin’, tsuzuke- ‘continue’, oe- ‘finish’, and owar- ‘end’: (i) the distribution of the passive morpheme -(r)are-, and (ii) selectional restrictions imposed upon the verbal complements.
2.1 The syntactic differences: passivization
Interactions between the four Japanese aspectual verbs and passivization
hajime- ‘begin’ and tsuzuke- ‘continue’
Under this line of analysis, the different syntactic behaviors of the four Japanese aspectual verbs under passivization can be captured in the following way. First, oe- ‘finish’ obligatorily selects for a VP complement (i.e. it is an obligatory restructuring verb). Thus, it allows long passive but prohibits a passivized complement, assuming that a complement must be at least a vP to be passivized. Second, the aspectual verb owar- ‘end’ obligatorily selects for a vP complement (i.e. it is a non-restructuring verb). Thus, owar- ‘end’ never allows long passive. Third, the two other aspectual verbs, hajime- ‘begin’ and tsuzuke- ‘continue’, select for both VP and vP complements (i.e. they are optional restructuring verbs). Therefore, they allow both long passive and can take a passivized complement.
While this analysis nicely captures the syntactic patterns exhibited by these four Japanese aspectual verbs, it fails to explain why the four aspectual verbs select for different ‘sizes’ of verbal complements. In other words, the distinct selectional restrictions imposed by the four Japanese aspectual verbs would have to be taken as purely syntactic and idiosyncratic under this approach. In the following section, I present data that suggest that a purely syntactic analysis of the selections of different ‘sizes’ of verbal complements by the four Japanese aspectual verbs fails to capture interesting correlations between the passive data and the semantic restrictions that these Japanese aspectual verbs impose on their verbal complements.
2.2 The semantic differences: selectional restrictions of event types
Although semantic differences among the four Japanese aspectual verbs have received limited attention, a quick examination of these four Japanese aspectual verbs and their verbal complements reveals that (i) these four Japanese aspectual verbs all impose the same basic semantic requirement on their verbal complement, which is that they express durative events, and (ii) one of the four Japanese aspectual verbs, oe- ‘finish’, imposes more specific selectional restrictions on its verbal complement as it requires telic durative events (i.e. accomplishments).
These contrasts show that oe- ‘finish’ imposes selectional restrictions on its verbal complement that are more specific than the selectional restrictions imposed by the other three aspectual verbs. In particular, while the requirement that hajime- ‘begin’, tsuzuke- ‘continue’, and owar- ‘end’ impose on their verbal complements is simply that they must express durative events, oe- ‘finish’ requires its verbal complements to express a subset of durative events, namely telic durative events (accomplishments). This is why oe- ‘finish’ is incompatible with achievement events regardless of the availability of an iterative reading. Even though plural subjects make it possible for achievement events to be perceived as having duration as a series of events, a series of achievement events still does not constitute an accomplishment event. Furthermore, the accomplishment requirement seems to be what distinguishes the two completive aspect verbs, oe- ‘finish’ and owar- ‘end’. While they both express completive aspect, only oe- ‘finish’ requires an accomplishment event, as seen in the contrast in (14).
Selectional restrictions on verbal complements
hajime- ‘begin’ and tsuzuke- ‘continue’
2.3 Section summary
This section presented two sets of data that show that the four Japanese aspectual verbs exhibit different syntactic and semantic patterns. The passive data suggested that oe- ‘finish’ always behaves as a restructuring verb, while hajime- ‘begin’ and tsuzuke- ‘continue’ exhibit restructuring behavior only occasionally, and owar- ‘end’ does not show restructuring behavior at all. The examination of the semantic restrictions imposed by these four Japanese aspectual verbs on their verbal complements showed that oe- ‘finish’ is the only aspectual verb that specifically requires its verbal complements to express telic durative events (i.e. accomplishments). The other three aspectual verbs only require their complements to express durative events. In what follows, I argue that taken together, the syntactic and semantic differences among the four Japanese aspectual verbs reviewed in this section motivate an analysis of these Japanese aspectual verbs as functional heads selecting for syntactic representations of events as their complements.
In order to account for the syntactic and semantic differences among the four Japanese aspectual verbs, I argue that they are functional heads Asp(ect) (Travis 1991; Borer 1994, 1998) that select for syntactic representations of events as their complements. I further argue that aspect heads occur in two different positions as L(ow)-Asp(ect) and H(igh)-Asp(ect), where they select for syntactic representations of different event types. Under my analysis, therefore, the four Japanese aspectual verbs exhibit different syntactic patterns because they are distributed differently between these two aspect head positions, and they have different distributions because they impose different selectional restrictions on their complements.
In order to present this analysis, I first outline my assumptions about syntactic realizations of the three event types based on the vP syntax framework (Hale and Keyser 1993, 2002; Kratzer 1994, 1996; Harley 1995; Chomsky 1995, 2000, 2001, 2008) (Sect. 3.1). I then introduce the proposed analysis of the four Japanese aspectual verbs as aspect heads H-Asp and L-Asp (Sect. 3.2), and argue for a particular distribution of these four Japanese aspectual verbs between the two aspect heads based on (i) their semantic selections of verbal complements and (ii) the passive data (Sect. 3.3).
3.1 Syntactic representations of event types
3.1.1 Activities as vPs
3.1.2 Achievements as either vunaccPs or vPs
3.1.3 Accomplishments as vunaccPs or vPs
3.1.4 Section summary
In this section I proposed syntactic analyses for the three different event types: activities, achievements and accomplishments. Activities are atelic durative events that have one obligatory event participant that initiates and maintains the relevant activity. They can be syntactically realized as vPs, either with or without an internal argument (i.e., as transitives or unergatives). Achievements are telic non-durative events that also have one obligatory participant that undergoes a change of state. They can be syntactically realized as vunaccPs when the argument that undergoes a change of state is an internal argument (unaccusatives), or vPs when the argument that undergoes a change of state is an external argument (transitives). Accomplishments are telic durative events that require an element that specifies an end point for the activity (delimiter). Accomplishments are syntactically realized as either vPs (transitives), or vunaccPs (unaccusatives) with a special requirement that the embedded VP has a delimiter. In what follows, I argue that these syntactic representations of the different event types are selected by the four Japanese aspectual verbs as functional heads that encode aspectual distinctions of events.
3.2 Aspectual verbs as aspect heads
Since the early 1990s, a number of studies have advanced the hypothesis that thematic and aspectual requirements of events are directly encoded in the syntax (Travis 1991, 2000; Borer 1994, 1998, 2005; McClure 1995; Ramchand 1997, 2008; Diesing 1998; Ritter and Rosen 1998; van Hout 2000; Svenonius 2002; McIntyre 2004; Thompson 2005; MacDonald 2006, 2008; among others).
3.3 The distribution of the four Japanese aspectual verbs between H-Asp and L-Asp
In this section, I argue that the syntactic and semantic patterns exhibited by the four Japanese aspectual verbs discussed in Sect. 2 together motivate an analysis in which hajime- ‘begin’ and tsuzuke- ‘continue’ can be either H- or L-Asp, while oe- ‘finish’ and owar- ‘end’ can only be L-Asp and H-Asp, respectively.
3.3.1 Oe- ‘finish’ as only L-Asp
3.3.2 Hajime- ‘begin’ and tsuzuke- ‘continue’ as either H- or L-Asp
3.3.3 Owar- ‘end’ as H-Asp only
This finding leads to the conclusion that the Japanese aspectual verb system uses two different aspect markers to mark the completion of atelic durative events (activities and iterative achievements) and telic durative events (accomplishments): owar- ‘end’ is used for the former and oe- ‘finish’ is used for the latter. However, the Japanese aspectual verb system uses the same aspect markers (hajime- ‘begin’ and tsuzuke- ‘continue’) to mark the inception and continuation of all durative events.
3.3.4 Section summary
4 Supporting arguments
This section presents three supporting arguments for the proposed analysis of the four Japanese aspectual verbs by providing (i) more passive data, (ii) data from subject honorification, and (iii) data from interactions between hajime- ‘begin’ and tsuzuke- ‘continue’ and a focus marker -dake ‘only’.
4.1 More passive data
According to my analysis, two of the Japanese aspectual verbs, hajime- ‘begin’ and tsuzuke- ‘continue’, occur as both H-Asp and L-Asp. Given that H-Asp selects for any durative event while L-Asp specifically selects for accomplishments, this analysis of hajime- ‘begin’ and tsuzuke- ‘continue’ makes specific predictions about correlations between the acceptability of the two passives (a passive complement and long passive) with verbal complements that express particular event types. In particular, it predicts that long passive should be acceptable with hajime- ‘begin’ and tsuzuke- ‘continue’ only when their verbal complements can be interpreted as accomplishments. In other words, if the verbal complements of hajime- ‘begin’ and tsuzuke- ‘continue’ express activities and achievements, then long passive with hajime- ‘begin’ and tsuzuke- ‘continue’ should be unacceptable.
4.2 Subject honorification
The proposed analysis of the four Japanese aspectual verbs and the analysis of subject honorification assumed here also predict that although hajime- ‘begin’ and tsuzuke- ‘continue’ are compatible with these two word orders (‘hon-verb+begin/continue-hon become’ and ‘hon-verb-hon become begin/continue’) the availability of these two alternative word orders should correlate with the type of event expressed by verbal complements. In particular, if the verbal complements under hajime- ‘begin’ and tsuzuke- ‘continue’ are headed by verbs that do not express an accomplishment event, only the structure in (61b), in which an aspectual verb is H-Asp, should be available. In other words, hajime- ‘begin’ and tsuzuke- ‘continue’ should not be able to be a part of the subject honorific complex when their verbal complements express activities or iterative achievements.
4.3 Interactions between the aspectual verbs and the focus marker -dake ‘only’
It has been pointed out that sentences where the focus element -dake ‘only’ occurs on an object under hajime- ‘begin’ and tsuzuke- ‘continue’ are ambiguous, while similar sentences with oe- ‘finish’ are unambiguous (Koizumi 1994, 1995, 1998).7
Thus, if the aforementioned assumptions about temporal adverbials are to be maintained, hajime- ‘begin’ in (90) must be L-Asp. Since (90) has the interpretation in (86a), this fact in turn supports the proposed analysis of the interaction of -dake ‘only’ and the Japanese aspectual verbs, according to which hajime- ‘begin’ must be L-Asp with the interpretation in (86a).
4.4 Section summary
In this section, I presented three supporting arguments for the proposed analysis of the four Japanese aspectual verbs. The additional passive data discussed in Sect. 4.1 show that the proposed analysis makes the right predictions regarding the availability of long passive with hajime- ‘begin’ and tsuzuke- ‘continue’ based on the event type of the verbal complement. The data from subject honorification discussed in Sect. 4.2 show that the proposed analysis offers accounts for the distribution of the four Japanese aspectual verbs in the subject honorification constructions, under the assumption that the auxiliary-like verb nar- ‘become’ involved in the subject honorification constructions is a type of v. The data concerning the interactions between the four Japanese aspectual verbs and the focus marker -dake ‘only’ discussed in Sect. 4.3 also show that the proposed analysis not only offers an account for the phenomena but also that it makes the right predictions regarding previously unnoticed data. As such, these three sets of data provide additional arguments for the proposed analysis.
5 Aspectual verbs as functional heads
One important aspect of the proposed analysis that has not been argued for explicitly is the claim that the four aspectual verbs are functional heads. This claim is particularly important to establish since all previous studies on Japanese aspectual verbs assume that they are lexical verbs that select for clausal complements, given that the standard analysis of aspectual verbs has been that they are control and raising verbs (Shibatani 1973, 1978; Kuno 1987; Kageyama 1993, 1999; Nishigauchi 1993; Koizumi 1994, 1995, 1998; Matsumoto 1996). In this section, I first argue against the control/raising analysis of the Japanese aspectual verbs by showing that there is no clear evidence that any of the four Japanese aspectual verbs must be a control verb. I then present arguments for the functional head analysis of the four Japanese aspectual verbs by showing that the results of applying the standard diagnostics for the functional vs. lexical distinction to these aspectual verbs are consistent with the functional head analysis.
5.1 Arguments against the control analysis of oe- ‘finish’
Following Perlmutter’s (1968, 1970) influential work on English aspectual verbs, the standard analysis of Japanese aspectual verbs has been that they are either control verbs, raising verbs, or ambiguous between the two. Under this approach, sentences with Japanese aspectual verbs usually have a bi-clausal structure, but occasionally involve a mono-clausal structure when they are control verbs (Shibatani 1973, 1978; Kuno 1987; Nishigauchi 1993; Kageyama 1993, 1999; Koizumi 1995, 1998; Matsumoto 1996).
The principal motivation behind the control/raising analysis of the four Japanese aspectual verbs comes from the observation that one of the four Japanese aspectual verbs, oe- ‘finish’, appears to impose selectional restrictions on its subjects. In what follows, I argue that (i) there are counterexamples to the control analysis of oe- ‘finish’, and (ii) the evidence that has motivated the control analysis of oe- ‘finish’ can be accounted for by alternative analyses that do not assume the control status of oe- ‘finish’.
5.1.1 Non-volitional subjects and oe- ‘finish’
5.1.2 Idiomatic expressions with subjects and oe ‘finish’
Since there is not sufficient evidence for maintaining the control analysis of oe- ‘finish’, presumably the only unambiguous control aspectual verb, I conclude that the control/raising analysis of the Japanese aspectual verbs cannot be maintained.11
5.2 Arguments for the functional status of the Japanese aspectual verbs
The issue of whether restructuring verbs should be analyzed as functional heads or lexical verbs has generated interesting debates. The idea that restructuring verbs are functional heads that lack the properties of lexical verbs has been around for a while. For instance, Napoli (1981) analyzes restructuring verbs as special cases of semi-auxiliary verbs, while Rosen (1990) analyzes them as special cases of light verbs. The basic claim behind these analyses is that restructuring verbs lack their own argument structure. In Rosen’s work, restructuring verbs as light verbs acquire the argument structure of their verbal complements. The strongest claim that has been made regarding the functional head analysis of restructuring verbs is exemplified in Cinque (2003, 2004), who proposes that all restructuring verbs are functional heads that are part of the highly articulated hierarchical structure of functional elements originally proposed in Cinque (1999). However, Wurmbrand (2004) challenges this hypothesis and argues that restructuring verbs can be either functional heads or lexical verbs, based on evidence from German restructuring verbs that exhibit properties of lexical verbs. Cardinaletti and Guisti (2001) also argue that it is not always possible to make a distinction between functional heads and lexical verbs. They argue that some motion verbs in Romance and Germanic languages are lexical verbs that merge in functional head positions.
Many of these aforementioned studies use a set of diagnostics to determine the functional vs. lexical distinction of predicates. In what follows, I apply these diagnostics to the four Japanese aspectual verbs and show that the results support the claim that they are functional heads.
5.2.1 The ability to select for internal arguments
One of the diagnostics that has been used to determine the functional vs. lexical status of predicates is the ability to assign θ-roles (Cardinaletti and Guisti 2001; Cinque 2003, 2004; Wurmbrand 2004). Functional heads, by definition, do not have argument structure. Consequently, they do not assign θ-roles (e.g., they do not select for internal arguments). In contrast, the ability to impose selectional restrictions on their complements is the hallmark of lexical verbs.
Citing Kayne’s (1989) observation that the standard cases of restructuring verbs do not involve object control, Cinque (2004) argues that the absence of internal arguments with restructuring verbs follows from his analysis that all restructuring verbs are functional heads that do not assign θ-roles. While Cinque’s claim is challenged by the data presented in studies such as Moore (1998) and Wurmbrand (2004), which show restructuring verbs can select for internal arguments in Spanish and German, respectively, the generalization that functional heads lack the ability to select for internal arguments remains valid.
5.2.2 Complement forms
5.2.3 Ordering restrictions
Predicted possible orders between two Japanese aspectual verbs
As for ordering restrictions between the Japanese aspectual verbs and other functional elements, it has already been demonstrated that the Japanese aspectual verbs exhibit consistent ordering restrictions with other functional elements in the same clause, such as the passive morpheme -(r)are- (Sects. 3.3 and 4.1) and the morphemes involved in subject honorification (Sect. 4.2). Thus, the ordering restrictions between the Japanese aspectual verbs and other functional elements provide further support for the claim that they are functional heads.14
Grammaticalization refers to the historical process in which lexical morphemes are changed into functional morphemes (Hopper and Traugott 1993; Roberts and Roussou 2003; among many others). Grammaticalization typically involves changes in the semantic, morphological, and syntactic properties of morphemes that undergo it. A typical example of grammaticalization is the development of auxiliary verbs from verbs that select for a clausal complement, as in the case of English modals.
6 Aspectual verbs in other languages
In this section, I briefly review three previous studies that analyze the syntactic behavior of aspectual verbs from languages including Italian and other Romance varieties (Sect. 6.1), German (Sect. 6.2), and Basque (Sect. 6.3). I argue that the data that these studies discuss, and the conclusions that they reach, support the core assumption of the proposed analysis of Japanese aspectual verbs: that aspectual verbs are functional heads occurring above or below v.
6.2 German (Wurmbrand 2001)
The fact that unambiguous raising verbs cannot be embedded under a modal (120a) suggests that they occupy a position that is higher than the position for (deontic) modals. The fact that they can have embedded passive (120b) but they themselves cannot passivize (120c) suggests that their position is higher than the position of the passive morpheme, presumably v. In contrast, the fact that ambiguous verbs cannot have embedded passive when embedded under a modal and with only a control reading (121b) suggests that there is no v below the position for a control verb. Together, these data suggest that raising verbs occupy a position that is higher than both v and (deontic) modals (i.e. AUX), while control verbs occupy a position that is lower than modals and v (i.e. V). According to Wurmbrand, only beginnen ‘begin’ allows for long passive among ambiguous verbs because its complement can be as small as VP, while the complement of versprechen ‘promise’ and drohen ‘threaten’ must be at least vP. When the complement of beginnen ‘begin’ is VP, there is no embedded v. Thus, the passivization of beginnen ‘begin’ forces A-movement of the internal argument to the matrix [Spec, TP], deriving long passive. In contrast, long passive is ungrammatical with versprechen ‘promise’ and drohen ‘threaten’ because the embedded internal argument would be case-licensed in the complement, since the complement is vP. In this case, there is no reason for the internal argument to move to the matrix [Spec, TP].17
The aspect phrase analysis offers an alternative account of beginnen ‘begin’ that is minimally different from Wurmbrand’s analysis. Instead of V and AUX, beginnen ‘begin’ occupies L-Asp and H-Asp. When beginnen ‘begin’ is L-Asp, it is embedded under vP. Therefore, it can be embedded under a modal and allows for long passive. In contrast, when beginnen ‘begin’ is H-Asp, it can have a passive complement since it is above vP. Analyzing H-Asp as being higher than the position for modals (or analyzing H-Asp and modals as sharing the same syntactic position in German) would account for the observation that beginnen ‘begin’ cannot have a passive complement when it is embedded under a modal. In other words, when beginnen ‘begin’ is embedded under a modal, it has to be in L-Asp. Thus, the aspect phrase analysis can also account for the distribution of beginnen ‘begin’ in German.18
6.3 Basque (Arregi and Molina-Azaola 2004)
Similarities between A&M’s analysis of Basque aspectual verbs and the proposed analysis of Japanese aspectual verbs should be immediately clear. According to A&M, there are two positions for aspectual verbs in Basque, and they are immediately below and above vP. A completive aspect verb, amaitu ‘finish’, occupies the position below v and an inceptive aspect verb, hasi ‘begin’, occupies the position above vP. Importantly, their conclusions are reached based on a very different set of data concerning a very different mechanism of grammar than what we have examined, namely, agreement.
In this paper, I proposed a novel analysis of Japanese aspectual verbs in which they are heads of Aspect Phrases that select for syntactic realizations of different event types. I argued that the proposed analysis, together with the proposed distribution of individual Japanese aspectual verbs between the two head positions, accounts for a set of behaviors of Japanese aspectual verbs that is representative of the characteristic behaviors exhibited by aspectual verbs across languages. I also showed that the proposed analysis makes the right predictions regarding correlations between the syntactic distribution of the four Japanese aspectual verbs and the event types of their verbal complements. Furthermore, data from previous studies that analyzed aspectual verbs in other languages were presented in order to show that they are not only consistent with the basic assumptions of the proposed analysis, but that they also provide cross-linguistic support for it.
As such, the proposed analysis challenges the common assumption that aspectual verbs are main verbs taking clausal complements. Moreover, it suggests the possibility that the similar behaviors exhibited by aspectual verbs across languages may have a common structural explanation. Finally, the proposed analysis provides additional support for the hypothesis that aspectual information about events is directly mapped onto syntactic structures (Travis 1991, 2000, 2005; Borer 1994, 1998, 2005; McClure 1995; Ramchand 1997, 2008; Ritter and Rosen 1998; van Hout 2000; Svenonius 2002; Nelson 2003; McIntyre 2004; Thompson 2005; MacDonald 2006, 2008; among others). In particular, the proposed analysis supports the original hypotheses proposed by Travis (1991) and Borer (1994, 1998) that there are functional heads that encode aspectual distinctions among different events that closely interact with the underlying structure of simple sentences.
There are two issues that concern the status of these passive data. First, there are disagreements in the literature concerning the interaction between the passive morpheme and Japanese aspectual verbs. While Shibatani (1978) maintains that oe- ‘finish’ only allows long passive, Kageyama (1993) states that some speakers allow both a passive complement and long passive with oe- ‘finish’. Second, the reliability of long passive as a syntactic diagnostic has been a matter of debate. For instance, Reis and Sternefeld (2004) deem long passive in German too marginal to be a reliable diagnostic, whereas Bader and Schmid (2009) argue that long passive is grammatical in German based on experimental evidence. (I would like to thank an anonymous reviewer for directing my attention to this study.) For Japanese, Fukuda (2006) reports the results of formal sentence acceptability judgment experiments that examined interactions between the two passive constructions and the four Japanese aspectual verbs. The results strongly support the claim that oe- ‘finish’ is compatible only with long passive, while hajime- ‘begin’ and tsuzuke- ‘continue’ are compatible with both long passive and passive complements. However, the results of the same experiments failed to support the claim that owar- ‘end’ is compatible only with passive complements. The sentences with owar- ‘end’ in both passive constructions were rated poorly, and there was no significant difference in mean acceptability scores between them. In this study, however, I continue to assume that the previously reported judgments about interactions between owar- ‘end’ and the two passive constructions hold. See Fukuda (2006) for a discussion of possible causes of the low acceptability of owar- ‘end’ in the two passive constructions.
An alternative approach to restructuring is to transformationally derive a restructuring (i.e. mono-clausal) structure from a bi-clausal structure (cf. Rizzi 1978, 1982; Roberts 1997). For instance, in Roberts (1997), a restructuring structure is derived from a bi-clausal structure when the embedded verb head-moves to the matrix domain and is co-indexed with the matrix tense. Since it is not clear whether Japanese has head movement (see Kishimoto 2007 for a recent argument against the assumption that lexical verbs in Japanese undergo head movement), I do not consider the head-movement approach to restructuring for the Japanese aspectual verbs.
Here, it should be pointed out that the complement events in the examples in (9) are ambiguous between atelic durative events (activities) and telic durative events (accomplishments), since bare nouns in Japanese can have a quantized interpretation, as in ‘reading the book’, which induces a telic interpretation, or non-quantized (bare plural-like) interpretation, as in ‘reading books’, which induces an atelic interpretation. What is crucial for the current discussion, however, is that the events expressed by the verbal complements in (9) are always interpreted as having duration.
The English counterparts of melt and cool are commonly known as degree achievements and are characterized as being compatible with both telic and atelic interpretations (Dowty 1979; Hay 1998; Hay et al. 1999). Thus, it may seem surprising that their Japanese counterparts toke- ‘melt’ and same- ‘cool’ can only be telic. However, it has been argued that what can be classified as degree achievements in different languages exhibit different aspectual properties, and aspectual properties of degree achievements are not necessarily derivable from their meaning (Csirmaz 2009; den Dikken et al. 2010).
More recent studies such as McIntyre (2004) and Ramchand (2008) propose underlying structures of simple sentences that are more finely grained and articulated than the ones proposed in earlier studies such as Travis (1991) and Borer (1994, 1998). Ramchand (2008), for instance, proposes that different event types are compositionally derived in the underling structure of simple sentences consisting of projections of at most three distinct functional heads: (i) init(iation), (ii) proc(ess), and (iii) res(ult) (the first phase syntax in her terms).
The reason that the older proposals (especially Travis 1991) were adopted here instead of Ramchand’s proposal is that Ramchand (2008) explicitly denies the hypothesis that the passive involves a type of v (the equivalent of init in her proposal), and she assumes that passivization occurs outside of the domain of the first phase syntax (Ramchand 2008:89). However, under the proposed analysis, it is crucial that passivization occur within the syntactic domain where syntactic realizations of events take place, as argued in 3.3. In fact, evidence suggests that voice distinction is closely associated with the composition of events. van Valin and LaPolla (1997) show that in Italian, passivizability of transitive verbs may depend on whether they express activities or accomplishments. For instance, when a transitive verb mangiare ‘eat’ expresses an accomplishment, it can be passivized, but it cannot be passivized when it expresses an activity, regardless of whether the subject is pre- or post-verbal (van Valin and LaPolla 1997:149). This contrast seems to suggest that transitive verbs that are compatible with both activity and accomplishment readings, such as mangiare ‘eat’, can be passivized only when they express accomplishments in some languages.
I remain agnostic about the exact nature of the case licensing system in Japanese. See Inoue (2005) for a comprehensive review of studies of case licensing in Japanese.
Koizumi (1994, 1995, 1998) does not present data with owar- ‘end’ and -dake ‘only’. As pointed out by an anonymous reviewer, the nature of the scope interactions between owar ‘end’ and -dake ‘only’ is not clear, as the intuitions appear to differ among native speakers. I do not discuss owar- ‘end’ in this section given the unclear nature of the data.
Here I assume that a proposition can be complete without information that involves functional projections above vP, such as tense, viewpoint aspect, and force.
In fact, MacDonald (2008:138; fn.19) suggests that time-span adverbials are adjoined to an aspect phrase (his equivalent of L-AspP) in English.
I would like to thank an anonymous reviewer for providing the judgments for (107).
As an anonymous reviewer points out, the proposed analysis predicts that the embedded event must be an accomplishment when there are two aspectual verbs in a given sentence, because the embedded event under L-Asp must be an accomplishment. This prediction is borne out by all of the examples in (107) through (109), with the exception of (109d). The embedded event in (107b) and (108b) can only be an accomplishment because the first aspectual verb (L-Asp) is oe- ‘finish’, which requires an accomplishment event. As for the embedded events in (109a–c), they are interpreted as telic durative events with iterative interpretations. This suggests that they must be accomplishments, since only accomplishments are durative and telic. In contrast, the embedded event in (109d) can be interpreted as atelic, contra the prediction. One way in which this observation can be reconciled with the proposed analysis is to assume that there are two head positions within H-Asp, as suggested above in light of example (110). Under such an analysis, the two aspectual verbs in (109d) are both H-Asp.
According to Wurmbrand, only deontic modals can be embedded under scheinen ‘seem’.
Under this analysis, it is not clear why versprechen ‘promise’ and drohen ‘threaten’ cannot have embedded passive when they are control verbs, since their complement is vP. A possible alternative is to analyze versprechen ‘promise’ and drohen ‘threaten’ as v selecting a VP complement.
In fact, Wurmbrand herself suggests the possibility that beginnen ‘begin’ is a functional head (i.e. aspectual head), although she does not pursue this possibility (Wurmbrand 2001: 214, fn.76). However, an anonymous reviewer points out that an aspect head analysis does not provide a complete account for the syntactic distribution of beginnen ‘begin’, as there are several pieces of evidence that beginnen ‘begin’ behaves as lexical verb. For instance, Wurmbrand (2001) shows that beginnen ‘begin’ allows for extraposition and selects for a CP complement, while functional heads are assumed to do neither.
I am grateful to Chris Barker, Ivano Caponigro, Marcel den Dikken, Mark Garwon, Grant Goodall, Hideki Kishimoto, John Moore, Masha Polinsky, Kenichi Takita, Asako Uchibori, the audiences at WAFL3 and FAJL4, and four anonymous NLLT reviewers for their insightful comments and very helpful suggestions. Many thanks are also due to Kunio Nishiyama and Yoshiki Ogawa for sharing their manuscript with me. Special thanks go to Marcel den Dikken and Frances Blanchette for editorial assistance, and to John Kupnick for proofreading the manuscript. All remaining errors are of course my own.