World of Science. Series: Sociology, Philology, Cultural Studies
World of Science. Series: Sociology, Philology, Cultural Studies

2022, Vol. 13, No. 4. - go to content...

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Strizhak U.P. [Japanese beneficial structures as a factor in reducing the agentivity of the utterance] World of Science. Series: Sociology, Philology, Cultural Studies, 2022, Vol. 13, No. 4. Available at: (in Russian).

Japanese beneficial structures as a factor in reducing the agentivity of the utterance

Strizhak Uliana Petrovna
National Research University «Higher School of Economics», Moscow, Russia

Abstract. Beneficial structures in Japanese, systematically presented in the linguistic discourse in terms of its structural features, in this paper is analyzed for the first time in terms of author’s dissertation thesis on Japanese agentivity in the context of the agentivity theory, where agentivity presents as a macro semantic category representing human’s activity for surrounding’s change and determining the functioning of many linguistic phenomena. This article deals with cases of diathesis alternation with a redistribution of syntactic roles, due to the benefactive and emotive semantic components included, leading to a redistribution of the focus of causative force. On the material of a fragment of a parallel Russian-Japanese corpus of works of fiction, Japanese predicates with a beneficial meaning are considered in order to determine their significance in the processes of distributing the agentive load in a sentence. By the methods of quantitative and qualitative analysis it is proved that these predicates provide a change in the ranks of actants depending on their lexical properties, demonstrating the non-voice diathesis shift. Beneficial semantics, represented in the formal structure, could be defined as an additional weight to reduce the degree of agency of the phrase as a whole: even though the causal impact considered to be a cognitively marked subject, attention is focused not on the conscious causal impact on the human, but on receiving positive emotions. As a result, the beneficial factor of reducing the agentivity in Japanese is determined. It is proved that the use of beneficially significant predicates increases the allowability of an inanimate subject as a causator, since the causative semantics of the main predicate is partially defocused with the semantic emphasis shifted to gratitude. These results contribute to the hypothesis that Japanese is the low-agentive language aiming agent-defocusing.

Keywords: beneficial structures; agentivity; Japanese language; actant-predicate structure; diathetic alternation; emotiveness; gratitude semantics; inanimate subject

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