Transitive vs Intransitive
  • Hi, I'm new to this forum, so 皆さん,はじめまして ^.^

    My question is about japanese verbs (intransitive and transitive) and how to us them. For example: to continue..
    They come in 2 types: 続ける and 続く
    Now, what I don't understand is if you can say (please continue), for example: 続いてください or 続けてください (hope my conjugation is correct ^.^)

    Is it possible to use both like that?

    Your answers are much appreciated <3
  • It depends upon what you mean by "please continue". This could either mean "please continue from there" (transitive), or just "please keep on doing" (intransitive).
    Now in English, we usually don't make the distinction between transitive and intransitive, but you do in Japanese.

    つづける (somebody) preserve(s) an ongoing or resume an interrupted action or state, eg 旅をつづける,
    opposite of やめる

    つづく  a certain action or state keeps on doing or remains the way it is, eg 見渡す限り草原がつづく or 江戸時代は300年つづいた

    Now, to your example. If you want to say something along the lines of "please continue the (lesson/practice/work...)", you would be forced to use the transitive tsudsukeru, even if the object to the verb is only implied. tsudsuku would not make sense. So:
     練習をつづけてください。
     授業をつづけてください。
     そのまま つづけてください。(= Continue [sth.] like this.)

    Next, there is no person involved with the verb tsudsuku, so it would not make sense to command one to do "tsudsuku".

    However.
    [
    Originally, the distinction between transitive and intransitive was less prevalent in (old) Japanese. Thus we find basic verbs, such as 染む (しむ, to dye, be dyed) that could be used both ways, but many of them are now archaic and have fallen out of use. Instead, through various means, longer and specialized verb were formed - 染める(transitive version, by adding 得る) and 染まる(intranstive version, by adding 有る.
    ]

    It happens that there is also a transitive meaning to tsudsuku, which is

    つづく  follow (literally or metaphorically) a person in front of oneself

    山頂を目指すものは私に{つづけ・つづいてください}! Follow me if you want to reach the summit.
    先生の後ろに生徒がつづく
    鈴々ちゃんの後に続いてください!

    Also, read the examples here http://ejje.weblio.jp/sentence/content/続ける , here http://ejje.weblio.jp/sentence/content/続く , here http://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/leaf/je2/50210/m0u/続く/ , and here http://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/leaf/je2/50214/m0u/続ける/ .
    It's always a good idea to get a feeling for the usage and nuance from actual sentences.
  • @blutorange

    "Originally, the distinction between transitive and intransitive was less prevalent in (old) Japanese. Thus we find basic verbs, such as 染む (しむ, to dye, be dyed) that could be used both ways, but many of them are now archaic and have fallen out of use. Instead, through various means, longer and specialized verb were formed - 染める(transitive version, by adding 得る) and 染まる(intranstive version, by adding 有る."

    Source for that?
  • My favorite book of which I recently bought a physical copy: An historical grammar of Japanese, George Sansom, Oxford University Press, reprinted lithographically from corrected sheets of the first version 1940, 1960, 1968, p. 154

    [quote]
    There is also a large group of derived verbs, providing special transitive and intransitive forms, which are obtained from original (known or conjectured) first conjugations forms by agglutination of uru and aru respectively. Thus from todomu (which is used in the First Conjugation [note: =四段] in the Nara period) we have
    todomaru } to stay (intransitive)
    todomuru }
    todomeru } to stop (transitive)
    which are if the second conjugation.


    You can also read this book for free on the net: http://archive.org/stream/historicalgramma00sansuoft#page/154/mode/2up

    Source for an original form of 染む, used both transitively(他) and intransitively(自): The respective entries in 広辞苑第六版, 精選版日本国語大辞典, and 全訳古語辞典第三版(旺文社).

    I feel that having __some__ knowledge about how Japanese developed makes the language look much less chaotic, gives you a better feel, and sheds some light in general on its various constructions.
  • Tnx for the reply, blutorange, that was very instructive
  • Thanks for that information on 得る/有る, blutorange.

    Do you perhaps know what the history behind 生む becoming 生まれる as intransitive is? Or is that just the passive form and nothing else?
  • I don't know nothing about etymology of these words, but isn't it natural that you either give birth to someone/something and you are born? 生まれる is just a passive voice of 生む in this case and I don't think etymology has something to do with that.
  • I am not a linguist so take it with a grain of salt.

    Well, one thing is quite obvious, judging by how it fits the pattern of change that can be seen in many other words, both 生まる (a form fallen out of use, but mentioned in several dictionary) as well as 生まれる are derived from the original form 生む, which is still in use today.

    umu is a transitive verb, "to give birth" literally, or figuratively "to give rise to". Now your question is, if we assume umareru to be the potential form (umu+aru+uru, otherwise it would be umuru/umeru if only uru were added), we should expect a transitive verb. Yet umareru is the intransitive "to be born".

    If you take a look at the above mentioned linked book, you will find, on page 200, that the addition of uru can turn intransitive verbs into transitive ones, as well as vice-versa.

    Furthermore, a clue is furnished by the existence of the now extinct umaru. The conjugation of this verb is, 下二, ie:

    終止形 うまる
    連体形 うまるる $(see below for explanation on shuushikei/rentaikei)
    (全訳国語辞典大三版 文社)

    The last piece of the puzzle is found in the 広辞苑大六版 (as well as in the 明鏡国語辞典, where we are told that umareru is indeed a derivative of umaru, through a well known process:

    $ Originally Japanese made a difference (also found in the ryuu-kyuu language/dialect) between a sentence-final form 終止形, eg 金持ちに生まる (be born rich) or 石落(お)つ (stone/s fall/s), and an attributive form 連体形, used estabilish a relation between a verb (phrase) and a noun ("relative clause"), eg 生まるる場所 (the place where one was born) or 車より落(お)つる石 (stone/s which fall from the wagon).

    The old colloquial and the modern language has given up this distinction, usually substituting the 連体形 for the 終止形, ie the 連体形 became the so-called dictionary form. Thus umaru and otsu become umaruru and otsuru, which by well established sound changes take their current forms of umareru and ochiru.

    And umaru is clearly umu+aru.

    Further examples of above-mentioned sound changes:
    - the helper "verb" for forming passive/potential constructions ru>ruru>reru and raru>raruru>rareru, eg 飲む>飲まる>飲まるる>飲まれる
    - the causative helper verbs su>suru>seru and sasu>sasuru>saseru
    - tatsu>tatsuru>tachiru
    - kudaku>kudakuru>kudakeru
    - subu>suburu>suberu (統べる) (the existence of an original subu explains the okurigana usage, and the non-existence of an original *滑ぶ the okurigana usage of 滑る)
    & many, many more.


    Random fact, 寿司 is an adjective meaning sour (酸っぱい).
  • I see. Thanks again!

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