Volume 10, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2210-2116
  • E-ISSN: 2210-2124
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Modern Japanese has a formally very simple tense-aspect system, which at its core has only three forms that are complemented by a number of peripheral markers and constructions. The core of the tense-aspect system was much more elaborate and complex in Classical Japanese. This paper discusses the systems of Modern and Classical Japanese, and then sketches the development from the latter to the former. This development involves the grammaticalization from aspect to tense, the recruitment of lexical means and constructions to renew aspectual categories, and category climbing. Two major paths of grammaticalization can be distinguished.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Breban, Tine & Svenja Kranich
    2015 Introduction to What Happens after Grammaticalization? Secondary Grammaticalization and Other Late Stage Pprocesses. Language Sciences47.129–131. 10.1016/j.langsci.2014.09.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.langsci.2014.09.001 [Google Scholar]
  2. Bussmann, Hadumod
    1996Routledge Dictionary of Language and Linguistics. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Bybee, Joan, Revere Perkins & William Pagliuca
    1994The Evolution of Grammar. Tense, Aspect and Modality in the Languages of the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Dahl, Östen
    1985Tense and Aspect Systems. Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Desclés, Jean-Pierre & Zlatka Guentcheva
    2012 Universals and Typology. The Oxford Handbook of Tense and Aspected. byRobert I. Binnick, 123–154. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Fischer, Olga
    2003 The Development of the Modals in English: Radical versus Gradual Changes. English Modality in Context: Diachronic Perspectivesed. byDavid Hart, 17–32. Bern: Lang.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Frellesvig, Bjarke
    2010A History of the Japanese Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511778322
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511778322 [Google Scholar]
  8. Fukushima, Takenobu
    2008 Review ofKinsui, Satoshi: Nihongo sonzai hyōgen no rekishi [A History of Existential Expressions in Japanese]. Nihongo Bunpō8:2.207–214.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. GNB=Gendai Nihongo Bunpō Kenkyūkai
    GNB=Gendai Nihongo Bunpō Kenkyūkai 2007: Gendai nihongo bunpō 3 [Modern Japanese Grammar 3]. Tōkyō: Kuroshio Shuppan.
  10. Goto, Taeko
    2001 On the Decline of Tense and Aspect in Japanese: Its Theoretical Implications. Language Change in East Asiaed. byT. E. McAuley, 233–249. Richmond: Curzon.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Guéron, Jacqueline
    2007 On Tense and Aspect. Lingua117.367–391. 10.1016/j.lingua.2005.04.005
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lingua.2005.04.005 [Google Scholar]
  12. Gvozdanović, Jadranka
    2012 Perfective and Imperfective Aspect. The Oxford Handbook of Tense and Aspected. byRobert I. Binnick, 781–802. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Hasselberg, Iris
    1996Verbalkomposita im Japanischen. Hamburg: Helmut Buske.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Heine, Bernd
    1997Cognitive Foundations of Grammar. New York: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Hengeveld, Kees
    1989 Layers and Operators in Functional Grammar. Journal of Linguistics25.127–157. 10.1017/S0022226700012123
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022226700012123 [Google Scholar]
  16. 2011 The Grammaticalization of Tense and Aspect. The Oxford Handbook of Grammaticalizationed. byHeiko Narrog & Bernd Heine, 580–594. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Hengeveld, Kees & J. Lachlan Mackenzie
    2008Functional Discourse Grammar. A Typologically-based Theory of Language Structure. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199278107.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199278107.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  18. Hengeveld, Kees, Heiko Narrog & Hella Olbertz
    (eds.) 2017The Grammaticalization of Tense, Aspect, Modality and Evidentiality. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110519389
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110519389 [Google Scholar]
  19. Hopper, Paul J.
    1991 On Some Principles of Grammaticization Approaches to Grammaticalization (vol. 1)ed. byElizabeth C. Traugott & Bernd Heine, 17–35. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 10.1075/tsl.19.1.04hop
  20. Ijima, Masahiro
    2011 Chūkogo kako, kanryō hyōgen no kenkyū [The study of expressions of past and perfect in Late Old Japanese]. Tōkyō: Hitsuji Shobō.
  21. Kindaichi, Haruhiko
    (ed.) 1976Nihongo Dōshi no Asupekuto. Tōkyō: Mugi Shobō.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Kinsui, Satoshi
    1993 Kojiki no tensu asupekuto [Tense-aspect in the Kojiki]. Kokubungaku Kaishaku to Kanshō7.28–33.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. 2000 Toki. Toki, hitei to toritate [Tense-aspect, negation and information structure] ed. bySatoshi Kinsui, Mayumi Kudō & Yoshiko Numata, 1–92. Tōkyō: Iwanami Shoten.
  24. 2005 Nihongo asupekuto no rekishiteki kenkyū [The historical study of Japanese aspect]. Proceedings of the 6th Nihongo Bunpō Gakkaied. byNihongo Bunpō Gakkai, 1–15. Tsukuba.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. 2006a Nihongo sonzai hyōgen no rekishi [A History of Existential Expressions in Japanese]. Tōkyō: Hitsuji Shobō.
  26. 2006b Nihongo asupekuto no rekishiteki kenkyū [The historical study of Japanese aspect]. Nihongo Bunpō6:2.33–44.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. KKK= Kokuritsu Kokugo Kenkyūjo
    KKK= Kokuritsu Kokugo Kenkyūjo 1985: Gendai nihongo dōshi no asupekuto to tensu [Aspect and Tense of Modern Japanese Verbs]. Tōkyō: Kokuritsu Kokugo Kenkyūjo.
  28. Kondō, Yasuhiro
    2013 Denshika koopasu o mochiita kotengo no tensu asupekuto kenkyū [The study of tense and aspect in Classical Japanese using electronic corpora]. Nihongogaku32:12.16–29.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Koyanagi, Tomokazu
    2018 Bunpō henka no kenkyū [Research on grammatical change]. Tōkyō: Kuroshio.
  30. Kudō, Mayumi
    1995 Asupekuto, Tensu Taikei toTekusuto. Gendai Nihongo no Jikan no Hyōgen [The system of tense-aspect and text. The temporal expressions of Modern Japanese]. Tōkyō: Hitsuji shobō.
  31. 1996 Hanjijitsusei no hyōgen o megutte [On expressions of counterfactuality]. Journal of the Yokohama National University, Section II, 43.51–65.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. 2004 Gendaigo no tensu, asupekto [Tense and aspect in Modern Japanese]. InOnoe, Keisuke (ed.) Bunpō II [Grammar II], 172–192. Tōkyō: Asakura Shoten.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. 2014 Gendai Nihongo muudo, tensu, asupekuto-ron [Mood, Tense and Aspect Systems in Japanese]. Tōkyō: Hitsuji Shobō.
  34. Kuroda, Tōru
    2006 Man’yōka no dokkai to kodaigo bunpō [The interpretation of Man’yōshū poems and the grammar of Ancient Japanese]. Chiba: Man’yō Shobō.
  35. Lewandowski, Theodor
    1996Linguistisches Wörterbuch, vol.1. 6th ed.Heidelberg/Wiesbaden: Quelle und Meyer.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Lewin, Bruno
    1955 Zur Frage der Verbalaspekte im Altjapanischen. Oriens Extremus2:2. 237–249.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Martin, Samuel E.
    1996 On the Finite forms of Old Japanese Verbs. Journal of East Asian Linguistics5.295–299. 10.1007/BF00132605
    https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00132605 [Google Scholar]
  38. Matsumoto, Yo
    1996Complex Predicates in Japanese. A Syntactic and Semantic Study of the Notion ‘Word’. Stanford: CSLI Publications.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Miller, Roy Andrew
    1985 Homonymy, Heteroclysis, and History in the Japanese Verb. Linguistics and Philosophy. Essays in Honor of Rulon S. Wellsed. byAdam Makkai & Alan K. Melby, 393–418. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Nakanishi, Uichi
    1996 Kodaigo Bunpōron. Jodōshihen [Grammatical analysis of Old Japanese. Auxiliaries]. Tōkyō: Izumi Shoin.
  41. Narrog, Heiko
    1999Japanische Verbflexive und flektierbare Verbalsuffixe. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. 2009Modality in Japanese – The Layered Structure of Clause and Hierarchies of Functional Categories. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/slcs.109
    https://doi.org/10.1075/slcs.109 [Google Scholar]
  43. 2010 The Order of Meaningful Elements in the Japanese Verbal Complex. Morphology20:1.205–237. 10.1007/s11525‑010‑9150‑9
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11525-010-9150-9 [Google Scholar]
  44. 2012Modality, Subjectivity, and Semantic Change: A Cross-Linguistic Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199694372.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199694372.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  45. 2016 Exaptation in Japanese and Beyond. Exaptation and Language Changeed. byNorde and Freek Van de Velde, 93–120. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/cilt.336.04nar
    https://doi.org/10.1075/cilt.336.04nar [Google Scholar]
  46. 2017 Relationship of Form and Function in Grammaticalization – The Case of Modality. In: Hengeveld, Kees (eds) 2017, pp.75–110.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Nitta, Yoshio
    2009 Nihongo no bunpō kategorii o megutte [About the categories of Japanese grammar]. Tōkyō: Hitsuji Shobo.
  48. Ōki, Kazuo
    2009 Kodai nihongo dōshi kihonkei no jikanteki imi [The temporal meaning of the basic form of verbs in older Japanese]. Kokugo to Kokubungaku (special edition on tense-aspect in Classical Japanese) 11.21–31.
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Okuda, Yasuo
    1985 Kotoba no kenkyū – josetsu [Language research – a preamble]. Tōkyō: Mugi Shobō.
  50. Ono, Tsuyoshi
    1992 The Grammaticization of the Japanese Verbs oku and shimau. Cognitive Linguistics3–4.367–390. 10.1515/cogl.1992.3.4.367
    https://doi.org/10.1515/cogl.1992.3.4.367 [Google Scholar]
  51. Onoe, Keisuke
    2001 Bunpō to Imi 1 [Grammar and Meaning 1]. Tōkyō: Kuroshio Shuppan.
  52. Robbeets, Martine
    2015Diachrony of Verbal Morphology: Japanese and the Transeurasian Languages. Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110399943
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110399943 [Google Scholar]
  53. Rickmeyer, Jens
    1991Einführung in das klassische Japanisch anhand der Gedichanthologie Hyakunin isshu. 2nd ed.Hamburg: Helmut Buske.
    [Google Scholar]
  54. Rothaug, Petra
    1991Abriß der japanischen Lautgeschichte. Hamburg: Helmut Buske.
    [Google Scholar]
  55. Salkie, Raphael
    2010Will: Tense or Modal or Both?English Language and Linguistics14:2.187–215. 10.1017/S1360674310000055
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S1360674310000055 [Google Scholar]
  56. Sandness, Karen E.
    1999The Evolution of the Japanese Past and Perfective Suffixes. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. 10.3998/mpub.18503
    https://doi.org/10.3998/mpub.18503 [Google Scholar]
  57. Schneider, Roland
    1968 Zu den Hilfsverben des Tempus und Aspekts im Spätmitteljapanischen. Nachrichten der Gesellschaft für Natur- und Völkerkunde Ostasiens104.21–55.
    [Google Scholar]
  58. Shigemi, Kazuyuki
    1999 Jodōshi no kōbun kinō kenkyū [The study of the syntactic functions of auxiliaries]. Tōkyō: Izumi Shoin.
  59. Shirai, Yasuhiro
    1997 On the Primacy of Progressive over Resultative State: The Case of Japanese -teiru*. Japanese/Korean Linguistics (vol.6) ed. byHo-min Sohn & John Haig, 512–524. Stanford: CSLI.
    [Google Scholar]
  60. Suzuki, Shigeyuki
    1976 Nihongo no dōshi no sugata (asupekuto) ni tsuite [About the aspect of Japanese verbs]. Nihongo Dōshi no Asupekutoed. byHaruhiko Kindaichi, 63–81. Tōkyō: Mugi Shobō.
    [Google Scholar]
  61. Suzuki, Tai
    1993 Jikan hyōgen no hensen [The change of temporal expressions]. Gekkan Gengo22:2.60–67.
    [Google Scholar]
  62. 1999 Kodai nihongo dōshi no tensu, asupekuto [Tense and aspect of verbs in older Japanese]. 2nd ed.Tōkyō: Hitsuji Shobō.
  63. 2009 Kodai nihongo jikan hyōgen no keitaironteki kenkyū [Morphological research on temporal expressions in older Japanese]. Tōkyō: Hitsuji Shobō.
  64. 2012 Gokei taishō koten nihongo no jikan hyōgen [The temporal expressions of Classical Japanese, contrasting forms]. Tōkyō: Kasama Shoin.
  65. Takahashi, Tarō
    2003 Dōshi Kyūshō [Nine chapters on verbs]. Tōkyō: Hitsuji Shobō.
  66. Takayama, Yoshiyuki
    2011 Tensu, asupekuto. Bunpōshi [History of Grammar] ed. bySatoshi Kinsui , 34–54. Tōkyō: Iwanami Shoten.
  67. Takeuchi, Lone
    1987A Study of Classical Japanese Tense and Aspect. Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag.
    [Google Scholar]
  68. 1999The Structure and History of Japanese. From Yamatokotoba to Nihongo. Essex: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  69. Takeuchi, Shirō
    2014 Jishō no katachi to jōdaigo asupekuto [The form of events and aspect in Old Japanese]. Nihongo Bunpōshi Kenkyū2.1–20.
    [Google Scholar]
  70. Unger, James Marshall
    1975 Studies in Early Japanese Morphophonemics. Doctoral Dissertation, Yale University.
  71. Unger, Marshall
    2000 Reconciling Comparative and Internal Reconstruction: The Case of Old Japanese /ti, ri, ni/. Language76:3.655–683. 10.2307/417138
    https://doi.org/10.2307/417138 [Google Scholar]
  72. van Gelderen, Elly
    2013 The Linguistic Cycle and the Language Faculty. Language and Linguistics Compass7:4.233–250. 10.1111/lnc3.12017
    https://doi.org/10.1111/lnc3.12017 [Google Scholar]
  73. Vovin, Alexander
    2009A Descriptive and Comparative Grammar of Western Old Japanese. Part 2: Adjectives, Verbs, Adverbs, Conjunctions, Particles, Postpositions. Folkestone: Global Oriental.
    [Google Scholar]
  74. Watanabe, Kazuha
    2005 The Development of Continuous Aspect. Historical Linguistics 2003ed. byMichael Fortescue , 301–315. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/cilt.257.20wat
    https://doi.org/10.1075/cilt.257.20wat [Google Scholar]
  75. Yamada, Kiyoshi
    2001 Gyokujinshō no gohō [The language of the Gyokujinshō]. Ōsaka: Seibundō.
  76. Yamaguchi, Akiho
    2001a Keri. Nihongo Bunpō Daijiten [Great Dictionary of Japanese Grammar] ed. byAkiho Yamaguchi & Morihide Akimoto, 234–236. Tōkyō: Meiji Shoin.
  77. 2001b Ta. Nihongo Bunpō Daijiten [Great Dictionary of Japanese Grammar] ed. byAkiho Yamaguchi & Morihide Akimoto, 422–424. Tōkyō: Meiji Shoin.
  78. Yamaguchi, Gyōji
    2003 Jodōshishi o saguru [Investigating the history of auxiliaries]. Ōsaka: Izumi Shoin.
  79. Yamaguchi, Yoshinori
    1986 Kodai Nihongo bunpō no seiritsu no kenkyū [Research on the formation of Ancient Japanese grammar]. Tōkyō: Yuseido.
  80. Yuzawa, Kōkichirō
    1936 Tokugawa jidai gengo no kenkyū [Study of the language of the Tokugawa period]. Tōkyō: Nae Shoin.
  81. Kojima, Noriyuki, Masatoshi Kinoshita & Akihiro Satake
    1971–1975Man’yōshū, 4vols. (Nihon koten bungaku zenshū 1–4). Tōkyō: Shogakukan.
    [Google Scholar]
  82. Mabuchi, Kazuo, Fumimaro Kunisaki & Tōru Konno
    1971–1976Konjaku Monogatari, 4vols (Nihon koten bungaku zenshū 21–24). Tōkyō: Shogakukan.
    [Google Scholar]
  83. Ozawa, Masao
    (ed.) 1971Kokin Wakashū. Tōkyō: Shōgakkan.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error