A corpus-based semantic analysis of Japanese mimetic verbs

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Based on corpus data, this paper explores the unique semantic properties of tuku-verbs, a class of mimetic verbs, in comparison to reduplicative suru-verbs, which have been shown to exhibit highly systematic properties. The paper demonstrates that tuku-verbs are semantically constrained as systematically as reduplicative suru-verbs, albeit in slightly different manners. Specifically, it is shown that the suffix -tuku in these verbs inherits the meaning of ‘surface’ and the syntactic property of a contact/impact transitive verb from its source verb tuku, projecting these features in different manners depending on whether the mimetic base takes a Theme or Agent subject. It is further shown that as a result of the above processes tuku-verbs lack physiological perception verbs and exhibit a high degree of transitivity if used as agentive verbs.


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