Semantics of Possibility Suffix “(Rar)e”
A semantical analysis of a Japanese verbal suffix “(rar)e” is given in the framework of event semantics. It is claimed that the primary sense of “(rar)e” is that of situational and volitional possibility. This sense is analyzed in terms of the concept of possible stages of history during a given time interval and the thematic role of agent. The other two senses of “(rar)e” are shown to be derivable from the primary sense. It is observed that the ability sense of “(rar)e” appears when it is used in an attribute sentence, and an analysis of a certain class of attribute sentences is given, which shows they are essentially generic sentences and hence, the predicate with “(rar)e” expressing ability is a generic predicate. Finally, the reason why “(rar)e” expresses a realized possibility in certain contexts are explained by the interaction of the primary sense of “(rar)e” and perfective aspect. Throughout, it is emphasized that the basic classification of Japanese sentences into states of affairs sentences and attribute sentences is essential for giving the semantical account of Japanese predicates.
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