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After reading an answer on this site about some particulars of particle usage, I recently got a copy of The Structure of the Japanese Language by Kuno. It has been an interesting read, although the copyright of the book is dated 1973 and the last printing (as far as the copy of the book I have is concerned) is 1980.

In the chapter for "Place Particles" を、に、で, the author doesn't seem to include へ in even a footnote, which is strange considering there were forty something pages dedicated to contrasting は and が.

The usage of を, according to the book, is to indicate unidirectionality over a major portion or dimension of the noun, and に is to indicate that the goal of the motion is the destination, and they are not entirely interchangeable as far as grammatical correctness is concerned. The above usage of seems similar to を that I've seen elsewhere of へ.

I am curious to know:

  1. How similar are を and へ particles in the above context?

  2. Is を commonly used nowadays in the above context?

  3. How long has へ been in use in the above context? I'm not sure how to find a good source on this, either.

Edit: An example from the book, using the (Nihon-Shiki, I think) spelling present there

a. miti o aruku 'to walk along the street'

b. miti ni aruku 'to walk to the street'

c. miti de aruku 'to walk on the street (probably back and forth, and across)'
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    I believe the usage of へ for directions has been in place since ancient Japanese, considering the etymology of 前, which used to be 前{まへ}, and actually meant 目方{まへ}, 目指す方向。へ here in ancient Japanese already denoted directionality. Also 行方{ゆくえ}, formerly 行方{ゆくへ}
    – dvx2718
    May 20, 2023 at 0:38
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    I would never say 道に歩く, at least not in the sense of "to the street." 道へ歩く sounds slightly less bad but it's totally different from 道を歩く.
    – aguijonazo
    May 20, 2023 at 15:31
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    For me 道に歩く is a literary and stilted way of saying 道を歩く or 道で歩く.
    – aguijonazo
    May 21, 2023 at 0:32
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    This is related: Why is 街に歩く not grammatical?
    – aguijonazo
    May 21, 2023 at 0:35
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    歩く is a verb of action, not of movement like 行く. Unlike “to” in English, に alone is not powerful enough to shift its focus to the destination. You need to rely on other expressions like 〜に向かって or the helper verb 行く (to make it 歩いていく). へ sounds less bad (to me) because it doesn’t pinpoint a destination like に. It’s more like “toward(s)” than “to.” But again, it’s totally different from を. I can’t think of a single context where へ has a similar meaning to を. So I don’t know what exactly you are asking.
    – aguijonazo
    May 22, 2023 at 11:24

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