In English, a verb that expresses a state can also express the entrance into a state. This is called inchoative aspect. The simple past is sometimes inchoative. For example, the present-tense verb in the sentence "He understands his friend" is stative, while the past-tense verb in the sentence "Suddenly he understood what she said" is inchoative, because it means "He began to understand"

I'm not sure if a sentence similar to that in Japanese would work. For example, 突然信じた sounds wrong, but I'm not sure. There are some other parts I'm not too sure about.

Dowty gives some tests to decide whether an English verb is stative.[6] They are as follows: They cannot be complements of "force":

I forced John to run.
*I forced John to know the answer.

This one is tricky. 信じさせる is a valid word, but I'm not sure if that's because there is an inchoative aspect to it or something like Japanese perceiving stative verbs differently.

They do not occur as imperatives, except when used in an inchoative manner.

*Know the answer!
Know thyself! (inchoative, not stative; archaic)

Since expressions like 信じて and そばに居て are valid, one would be inclined to think Japanese stative verbs would also have an inchoative aspect, but I'm not so sure if it can be used similarly in a way like 突然信じた. I'm also curious if verbs like 信じられる and 信じがたい have the inchoative aspect like "can believe" and "hard to believe" do.

  • 1
    – Yang Muye
    Aug 22, 2015 at 1:59
  • 分かった is a dynamic verb here with the definition of はっきりしなかった物事が明らかになる。知れる。 「真犯人が-・る」 「答えが-・る」 . For 一瞬信じた, it seems more like "I believed it for a moment" which isn't really inchoative aspect.
    – Joe
    Aug 22, 2015 at 2:34

1 Answer 1

  1. Does English have the [ inchoative aspect ] ?

    --- The answer depends on the definition.

There is no inchoative prefix, infix, etc. as in Latin, Russian, ...

   Russian     --    prefix по-,    e.g. бежать, побежать

   Esperanto     --    prefix ek-,     e.g. danci, ekdanci

See: https://linguistics.stackexchange.com/questions/19513/does-english-have-inchoative-aspect

  1. Does Japanese have the [ inchoative aspect ] ?

    --- I think it's exactly like English. If there's an interesting difference, i'd like to know it.

Later i thought that [見初める, 明け初める, 咲き初める] and [書きかける, 飲みかける] and maybe [彼は走り出した。] are closer to the Latin inchoative infix than anything in English.

為出す ・ 取掛る ・ し掛ける ・ 仕懸かる ・ し掛る ・ . . . 手紙を書きかけたところへ客が来た。 薬を飲みかけたが苦くて吐いた。

dictionary.goo.ne.jp/jn/165508/meaning/m0u/ なれそめる【馴れ初める】.... [動マ下一][文]なれそ・む[マ下二] 親しくなりはじめる。男女が恋する仲となる。.......

まだ上げ初めし前髪の 林檎のもとに見えしとき 前に挿したる花櫛の 花ある君と思ひけり・・・

  1. Do Japanese stative verbs have the inchoative aspect?

    --- Again, I think it's exactly like English. If there's an interesting difference, I'd like to know it.

This great page http://www.geocities.jp/niwasaburoo/24asupekuto.html has material on both 状態動詞 and 起動相.

  • Classical Japanese (古語/文語) had a verbal auxiliary (助動詞) ぬ/つ, which is usually described as perfect(完了)—a complete action, finished in the past. Frellesvig, A History of the Japanese Language, p. 66, says that, around the Nara period, it could also denote an inchoative ("ingressive, inceptive"): なきぬ / なきつ "begins to sing". I don't know how widespread this usage was, nor how long it lasted. Sep 3, 2016 at 23:29
  • 昨日 「The great page」 の文字にリンク埋め込んだのに、なんでまた「This great page」の後ろに括弧入りでリンク書いてんですか?
    – chocolate
    Sep 4, 2016 at 23:39
  • 「見初める, 明け初める, 咲き初める」-> You meant to write [見初]{みそ}める etc. or [見始]{みはじ}める etc.? (~[初]{そ}める vs ~[始]{はじ}める)
    – chocolate
    Sep 4, 2016 at 23:45
  • 「This great page」の後ろに括弧入りでリンク ---- 1. i like a short URL to be visible on the page (e.g., for copy & paste) ____ 2. esp. in this case, i want the author's name (Mr. niwa saburoo) to be visible.
    – HizHa
    Sep 5, 2016 at 4:37
  • Okay then I'll rollback my edit yesterday.
    – chocolate
    Sep 5, 2016 at 4:41

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