header image

Favorable and Unfavorable Effects: A Typology of Benefactive and Adversative Constructions in Japanese, Korean, and Ainu

Katsunobu Izutsu (Hokkaido) and Takeshi Koguma (Miyazaki)

Friday, May 18th
Buchanan B215

The present paper attempts a conceptual analysis of Japanese, Korean, and Ainu benefactive and adversative constructions, demonstrating that their differences are identifiable as different stages in the grammatical development in which the speaker-oriented notion of (un)favorableness is extended to second- and third-person entities. It is well known that some Japanese, Korean, and Ainu verbs with the sense ‘give’ are used to form certain benefactive constructions as illustrated in (1). Although their constructional meanings hardly manifest themselves in the English translations, the speaker obviously assumes a recipient (someone who is listened to) to receive a benefit or favorable effect from an agent (another one who listens) in sentences like (1a-c).

Japanese has another comparable construction with the verb morau ‘get/receive’ as exemplified in (2a), which differs in that the subject refers to the recipient, not the agent. The so-called adversative passive instantiated in (2b) amounts to a negative counterpart of the construction, in which the recipient receives an unfavorable rather than favorable effect.

Korean and Ainu seemingly lack equivalents to the Japanese -te morau construction and adversative passive (Hwang et al. 1988), where the recipient is coded in the subject. On the other hand, the so-called possessor raising construction, illustrated in (3a), could be viewed as a Korean counterpart of the -te morau construction and adversative passive, in which the “raised” object, not the subject, refers to the recipient of the relevant favorable or unfavorable effect. Although notions like “inalienability,” “affectedness,” and “entailment” somehow condition the acceptable uses (Kim 1999; Cho 2003; Bak 2004), an unfavorable effect (as in (3a-b)) or favorable effect (as in (3c)) on the first object entity (the recipient) seems to best characterize the constructional meaning.

Ainu has developed special pronominal prefixes (enci=, unci=) in some dialects, which are confined to the benefactive or adversative passive with a first person patient. Prefixed to verbs like omap ‘love,’ otuwasi ‘praise,’ ere ‘feed,’ kore ‘give,’ and eiwanke ‘employ,’ enci= (singular) and unci= (plural) depict the speaker(s) as having a favorable effect of the events encoded in the verbs. Likewise, they describe the speaker(s) as having an unfavorable effect of the encoded events when attached to verbs like emina ‘laugh at,’ omante ‘pack off,’ eukoitak ‘speak (ill) of,’ mososo ‘(disturb and) awake,’ rayke ‘kill,’ and kikkik ‘hit.’

Japanese and Korean have full-fledged benefactive and adversative constructions where any person (1-3) can be the agent and recipient; nevertheless, they differ in that the relevant recipient is typically encoded by the subject in Japanese but by the object in Korean. In contrast, the Ainu counterparts, the V wa kore construction ‘(do) me/us’ and enci/unci passive ‘I/We get (done),’ have very limited applicability in terms of person; the recipient must be the first person.

The present paper argues that the morphosyntactic and semantic-functional differences among those constructions reflect the degree of “de-subjectification” (Nakamura 2009) that each language has achieved (cf. “subjectivity” Langacker 1991). It further points out that the constructional differences could correlate with Talmy’s (1985) typological distinction between “verb-framed and satellite-framed languages.”

(See the attached PDF for data)


Bak, J. 2004. Optional Case Marking of the Possessor in Korean: a Study of Double Accusative Marking of Possessor/Possessee in Korean Based on Corpus Study and Optimality Computation. MA thesis. University of Manitoba.

Cho, S. 2003. A Conditioning Factor in Possessor Agreement Constructions. Japanese/Korean Linguistics 11.

Hwang, C., S. Li, S. Chang, and K. Li (Seoul Daehaggyo Eohag Yeonguso). 1988. Han-Ireo daejo bunseog. Myeongji Chulpansa.

Kim, Y. 1989. Inalienable Possession as a Semantic Relationship Underlying Predication: the Case of Multiple-Accusative Constructions. Harvard Studies in Korean Linguistics III. Harvard University.

Langacker, R. W. 1991. Foundations of Cognitive Grammar, vol. II: Descriptive Application. Stanford University Press.

Nakamura, Y. Ninchi Moodo no Shatei. ‘Uchi’ to ‘Soto’ no Gengogaku. Kaitakusha.

Talmy, L. 1985. Lexicalization Patterns: Semantic Structure in Lexical Forms. Language Typology and Syntactic Description, vol. 3: Grammatical Categories and the Lexicon. Cambridge University Press.

Download PDF

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

Faculty of Arts - Department of Englsh
397 - 1873 East Mall,
Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z1, Canada

Emergency Procedures | Accessibility | Contact UBC  | © Copyright The University of British Columbia