On Tue, 29 Aug 2006 19:36:56 -0500, Eric Christopherson <[log in to unmask]> wrote: >On Aug 29, 2006, at 6:07 PM, Javier BF wrote: > >> In Japanese there are: >> >> - 'normal' verbs or "do^shi", which come in three closely related >> conjugations (1: the -u ones like "kak-u" 'to write' and "kaer-u" 'to >> return', 2: the -ru ones like "tabe-ru" 'to eat' and "mi-ru" 'to >> look', and >> 3: the irregular "suru" 'to do' and "kuru" 'to come') >> >> - "i"-adjectives or "keiyo^shi" (like "aoi" '[to be] blue/green' and >> "atarashii" '[to be] new'), very much like verbs but with their very >> different conjugation >> >> - "na"-adjectives or "keiyo^do^shi" (e.g. "shizuka na", ), not really >> verbal, since they are used with the verb "desu" 'to be' (unlike the >> "i"-adjectives which function fully as verbs in their own) > >Isn't it that you can use "desu" to form polite forms of -i >adjectives, but you can't use the non-polite copula "da", the way you >can with -na adjectives? Yes, you can say "aoi desu" for politeness, but that is actually an auxiliary use of "desu" (similar to using "be" with another verb to form the passive in English), that literally translates as something like "[it] is [that it] is blue". The fact that "desu" is here merely an auxiliary is more easily seen in the past form, "aokatta desu", which literally means "[it] is [that it] was blue", clearly analyzable as a grammaticalized subordinated construction in which the sentence in the past tense "aokatta" ([it] was blue) is subordinated to the present tense "desu" ([it] is), merely so as to make the assertion less direct and thus more polite. Japanese has a tendency to use convoluted constructions for politeness, in which verbs 'pile up' successively in subordination (adding levels of indirectness to the statement), frequently ending in some form of "desu" used as an auxiliary. For example, the negative polite form of "desu" itself, "de-wa nai", literally means "as for being, [it] is not" (with the lexical 'be' in the gerund: "de", and the auxiliary 'be' in the negative: "nai"; alternatively you can say "de-wa arimasen", using the formal negative form of "aru", to exist, as the auxiliary). The formal negative past form of "aoi" is even more convoluted: "aoku nakatta desu", literally meaning "[it] is [that] being blue was not" (all that just to mean "it wasn't blue"). The point is that so-called "i"-adjectives are truly stative verbs in themselves, meaning "to be ...". They do not need "desu" to predicate, and have a full-fledged conjugation with tenses and all: "aoi" (it is blue), "aokatta" (it was blue), "aoku nai" (it is not blue, lit. being blue is not), "aoku nakatta" (it wasn't blue, lit. being blue was not), etc. Their use in attributive position (as in "aoi sora", blue sky), in which they directly precede a noun without any change or addition (and which makes them look as if they were functioning the same as English adjectives) is in fact sentence subordination that parallels the subordination procedure of the other kind of verbs (in which the mere fact that the verb doesn't end the sentence, as it would have to for a simple sentence, but is followed by the element it modifies, is what turns it into a subordinate). For example, "Tanaka-san-wa asagohan-wo tabeta" (Mr. Tanaka had breakfast) --> "Watashi-wa asagohan-wo tabeta Tanaka-san-wo miru" (I see Mr. Tanaka, who had breakfast). As you can see, in order to subordinate you just place the verb before the element it modifies, not needing any particle or change. This structure applies equally to "i"-adjectives: "Sora-wa aoi" (The sky is blue) --> "Watashi-wa aoi sora-wo miru" (I see the blue sky), coincidentally resulting in what outwardly appears to be a parallel construction to English attributive adjectives (adjective followed by noun), but that actually is a subordinated sentence. The literal translation would be "I see the sky that is blue", rather than "I see the blue sky"; cf. the past: "Sora-wa aokatta" (The sky was blue) --> "Watashi-wa aokatta sora-wo miru" (I see the sky that was blue / I see the formerly-blue sky).