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Consider:

  • XにYで行く
    • 学校に自転車行く
      • "Go to school by bicycle" ("means/instrumentality" interpretation)
      • "Is* bicycle and go to school" (Questionable?) (Verb conjunctive interpretation)
  • XにTraversal Verb-て行く
    • 学校に歩い行く
      • "Go to school by walking" ("means/instrumentality" interpretation)
      • "Walk and go to school" (Verb conjunctive interpretation)

The leads me to ask:

  • Does て-form implicitly contain the で of means?
  • Or is the で of means a て-form of something *(the copula だ perhaps?)

There seems to be something common between て-form and で of means.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Simply, yes, is just the 〜て form of . You could get into a whole discussion on this, but we can see the parallels between them.

Connecting

  • イ-adjective: 大きく強い → Big and strong
  • ナ-adjective: きれい頭がいい → Pretty and smart

Means/instrumentality

  • Verbs: 行っくる → Go and come back ("Come back by means of (first) going")
  • Nouns: お箸【はし】食べる → Eat by using chopsticks

As I said, this is an overly-simplistic answer, but I don't have time right now to jump into all of it.

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Good answer, but I think the choice of 行ってくる could be better, since it's possible to interpret as a "connecting" use. E.g. お箸を使って食べる or OPs 歩いて行く might be more illustrative. –  dainichi Sep 18 '12 at 23:25
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