Aspect shift without coercion: continuous causative verbs in Japanese and Korean

  • Toshiyuki OgiharaEmail author
  • Eun-Hae Park


This article discusses special agentive transitive verbs in Japanese and Korean (such as noru/thata ‘board’) that yield concrete result states (which we call target states) that are under the agentive subject’s control throughout their duration. These verbs (continuous causative (CC) verbs) produce two distinct interpretations: accomplishment and target state readings. The latter surface with several distinct constructions: (i) the aspectual morphemes -te iru (Japanese) and -ko iss (Korean); (ii) the simple past tense; and (iii) nominalization. Intuitively, what the agentive subject does is one continuous act: (i) attaining the target state in question, and (ii) preserving it. The name “continuous causative verb” stems from the fact that the agentive subject continues to behave like an agent throughout the complex eventuality. However, when we utter a sentence containing a CC verb, we either refer to the accomplishment portion or the continuation of the target state, not both at the same time. Our formal proposal posits an aspect shift rule in the lexicon, which is responsible for the target state reading of each CC verb. The target state is indicated by a relation that holds between the agent and the theme entity, which in turn predicts that the agent is responsible for keeping the state intact. Positing a semantic rule in the lexicon to predict the aspect shift allows us to account for the two interpretations of CC verbs. The behavior of temporal adverbials also receives a natural account in our proposal.


Result state Aspect shift Causation Agentivity 


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Preliminary versions of this article were presented at a Semantics Roundtable meeting at the University of Washington on May 25, 2016, and at a Semantics Workshop in Tokai meeting (SWIT) in Nagoya, Japan on August 11, 2016. We thank the participants of these meetings for their comments and encouragement. In particular, we would like to thank Edith Aldridge, Barbara Citko, Takenobu Fukushima, Chris Kennedy, and the JEAL reviewers for comments, and their help in many ways. We also wish to thank the editorial assistance we received from Kristen Howell and Bryan Thompson. We finally wish to thank Vali Tamm for her copyediting work. All errors and inadequacies are of course ours.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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