AUXILIARY SELECTION IN THE EAST

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Abstract

The perfect auxiliaries in Old Japanese, -tu and -nu, display a close distributional correspondence to the European auxiliaries ‘have’ and ‘be’, particularly to hebben and zijn in Dutch, not only in the core cases where -tu/hebben appear with transitives/unergatives and -nu/zijn with passives/unaccusatives, but also in the following exceptional cases: Dutch is known to have a few transitive verbs, such as those for ‘forget’ and ‘pass’, which exceptionally select zijn Old Japanese also has a small class of exceptional transitives, among which are the verbs meaning ‘forget’ and ‘pass’ Since this is thought not likely to be accidental, the reasonable conclusions are that -tu/-nu selection and hebben/zijn selection are essentially the same phenomenon, and it is by the very nature of this phenomenon that verbs like ‘forget’ are favored as exceptions over many other transitive verbs. Auxiliary selection is therefore a phenomenon not confined to European languages – a conclusion which throws fresh light upon some important issues in the theory of auxiliary selection.

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