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I saw this sentence in a TV show

取り立てて話題がない

The sentence should mean there is nothing to talk about. But why are there two てs in this sentence?

Why can't they just say:

取り立つ話題がない

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    Hint: why slyly has two ly? Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 10:51
  • i think ly is like changing the adjective to adverb? (not so sure I am not a pro in english sorry) But I still dont know why does it have anything to do with the てて Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 10:55
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    Yes, the second ly is a function word, and the first ly is a part of original word. Now, look at 取り立てて……? Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 10:58
  • still dont understand, is there any similar phrase like this? Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 11:13

2 Answers 2

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First, 立つ is intransitive and 立てる is transitive, although they are both "to stand" in English. The te-form of 立つ is 立って, and the te-form of 立てる is 立てて. The first て of 立てて is part of the verb stem, and the second て is for making the te-form. Two て's can appear in succession in the te-forms of タ行 vowel-stem verbs such as 捨てる, 当てる, もてる.

As a compound verb, there is no such word as 取り立つ at least in modern Japanese. But there is a transitive compound verb 取り立てる, which roughly means "to pick up something/someone as a special one." 取り立てて is the te-form of 取り立てる. (取り立てる also means "to collect tax/debts," but this meaning is not relevant for now.)

One of the functions of te-form is to make certain verbs adverb-like. See: What is the role of あるいて?

So a rather literal translation of 取り立てて would be "in a manner of picking up / focusing on something". Practically, you should remember this as an established word that just means "especially", "in particular", etc.

取り立つ話題がない is wrong because 取り立つ does not exist in the first place.

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取り立てて is an expression that means "in particular" or "worth mentioning".

It come from

  • 取る
  • 立てる
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  • why can't they say 取り立てる話題がない? Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 11:02
  • Because 取り立てて is not a relative clause for 話題. Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 11:05

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