The Present Marker -te iru

University essay from Lunds universitet/Japanska

Abstract: The present thesis is concerned with the marker -te iru in Japanese, which has been thought to have the interpretations progressive, resultative, habitual, perfect (or experiential), and progressive through iteration, or any given subset of these interpretations according to various scholars. The matter is a complicated one, with particularly the perfect interpretation proving to be difficult to explain, as it refers to a past event rather than a current situation. After an intial overview of the various approaches seen in earlier research, including temporal, aspectual, syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic considerations, the previous research is discussed in the context of new research. Within this discussion it is noted that -te iru appears to have a standard interpretation of referring to only a current situation, and that in-sentence context is required for any other interpretation. On the basis of this discussion it is proposed that -te iru is a present marker that marks a situation holding at present, and that in the cases where the situation referred to by the verb is a past one, perfect meaning obtains as a result of the sentence referring to two distinct but related situations simultaneously, where the present situation is implied by the presence of -te iru without a situation compatible with its meaning as a present marker.

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