-seru, causative

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ThomasK

Senior Member
Belgium, Dutch
I do not speak Japanese at all, but I happened to learn that this suffix refers to causative verbs. Now that is a phenomenon I am interested in.

My question is: could you give me some examples of that or - even better - refer to a website where I can find them all (with the translation)?

Thanks a lot!
 
  • ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Thank you very much indeed. The list of examples makes me wonder: is it not a productive suffix that you can use freely. I mean: do you need a dictionary to understand these causatives? Is it not a little like "It rains > I make it rain", but of course in Japanese it is some kind of a lexical suffix, maybe a grammatical phenomenon?

    If I may: in Japanese the causative form is based on the "stative" then. I just read that in (West) Germanic languages the grammatical causative form ("fell a tree", make it fall) gave rise to the stative, so that it strictly speaking comes first. I am quite astonished, as I thought the descriptive non-personal subject verb (The tree falls, the bread rises, ...) would be the oldest. Would you agree to say that the stative form is the basis of the causative?
     
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    frequency

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Well, Japanese -seru and -saseru are categorized as auxiliary verb, in the Japanese grammar.
    I'm not sure if I can answer your question though, for example,
    Taberu (to eat, bare infinitive):arrow: Tabe saseru ― "ru" drops off.
    Yomu (to read, bare infinitive) :arrow: Yoma seru ― "yomu" conjugates to "yoma".

    As you can see above, we need to use saseru and seru separately. But sorry I don't know about the difference between saseru and seru. I hope a member who is more familiar with it comes to this thread.:D

    We don't need a dictionary to understand causatives.
     

    citrustree

    Member
    Japanese
    Hi,

    My understanding is that depending on the verb conjugation type, you attach either -seru or -saseru. You conjugate the verb into 'mizen-kei' and then attach the auxiliary verb, -seru or -saseru.

    For (1)'godankatsuyou' verbs and (2)'sagyouhenkakukatsuyou' verbs, you use -seru.
    For (3)'shimoichidankatsuyou' verbs, (4)'kamiichidankatsuyou' verbs and (5)'kagyouhenkakukatsuyou' verbs, you use -saseru.

    We, native Japanese speakers, know which of the two to use without thinking about the conjugation etc. I guess that's true of the native speakers of any language.

    examples:

    (1) utawa-seru - to make (someone) sing
    (2) sa-seru -to make (someone) do
    (3) wasure-saseru - to make (someone) forget
    (4) mi-saseru - to make (someone) see
    (5) ko-saseru - to make (someone) come
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Hello, Thomask.
    in Japanese it is some kind of a lexical suffix
    In Japanese there are pairs of intransitive and transitive verbs, like 閉まる (shimaru, to close, intransitive) and 閉める (shimeru, to close something, transitive), the door closes ドルが閉まる and I close the door ドルを閉める, while in English often they don't change form.
    These pairs are somewhat "closed" or "lexically determined", i.e you cannot simply take an intransitive verb, change the vowel of the stem from "a" to "e" and create a new transitive verb.
    The list of examples makes me wonder: is it not a productive suffix that you can use freely.
    As for -(sa)seru, it is an auxiliar verb (or modal verb, if you prefer), it is productive and you can use it to form a causative sentence (where there is a causer and a causee) but not to transform an intransitive verb into a transitive one.

    John goes to school => I make John go to school
    John wa gakkō e iku
    => (Watashi wa) John ni/o gakkō e ikaseru
    John reads a book
    => I make John read a book
    John wa hon o yomu
    => (Watashi wa) John ni hon o yomaseru

    The causer takes the "nominative" case (ga, wa, depending on the context) and the causee the "dative" case (ni).

    As for the conjugation, there are basically two types of verbs in Japanese, ichidan and godan. For the former you take off -ru and add -saseru (taberu => tabesaseru), for the latter you have to use the form used for the negative conjugation (yomu = I read, yomanai = I don't read) and add -seru (yomaseru). This, because -(sa)seru takes this form.

    crossposted with citrustree
     
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    frequency

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    the negative conjugation (yomu = I read, yomanai = I don't read) and add -seru (yomaseru). This, because -(sa)seru takes this form.
    Yes, the conjugation is the result when you add the auxiliary verb seru or saseru to a verb. (Including from taberu to tabe.)
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    This is very valuable information, thank you, and I guess I'd appreciate it even more if I were a real expert in morphology and knew Japanese.

    @Nino83: There is one thing I wonder about while reading the translations. Do you also use lexical phrases like "to encourage", "to incite", etc.? I guess that you do and that the underlying meaning is similar (someone exerting some pressure) but that the lexical verbs specify the way pressure is exerted. In that sense there would be a real parallel - when forgetting about the Japanese aux. status - between the two forms, i.e., the"make"/ "ru" & seaseru" aux. as opposed to causation expressed lexically. Or do you think English "make" and Japanese "ru" & "saseru" are quite distinct?
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Hi, frequency! Yes, you're right, I forgot to say that also with ichidan verbs saseru takes the mizenkei, even if the ichidan stem doesn't change. :thumbsup:
    In that sense there would be a real parallel - when forgetting about the Japanese aux. - between the"make"/ "ru" & seaseru" aux. as opposed to causation expressed lexically.
    It seems to me (I'd wait for a native speaker to confirm) that (sa)seru is similar to the English verb make and to the Romance verb fare, faire, hacer, fazer. It is a "general" verb. If you want to specify the type of pressure (demand, order, and so on) you can use other lexical verbs.
    You can also see that the construction is very similar in Japanese and Romance languages, far fare qualcosa a qualcuno (lit. make do something to someone, i.e make + verb + "accusative" + "dative") and dareka ni nanika o sa-seru (lit. to someone something do-make, in the opposite order).
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    It is so general that it can mean also "let someone do something" (this is true also for the Romance verb fare, faire, hacer, fazer, for example in Italian fare (make) in the appropriate context can mean also lasciare (let) or permettere, consentire (allow)).
    Note: If the person is willing to do something, it means ~させる( = saseru) could also means “to let someone do something.”
    from this site (it's a useful site with many examples that help you understand idiomatic uses):
    Kodomo ni kyanpu ni ikaseru. (Japanese)
    Faccio andare il bambino in campeggio. (Italian)
    These sentences can mean both I make my kid go camping (for example he doesn't want to go there and their parents oblige him to go) and I let(/allow) my kid (to) go camping (the kid wants to go there and their parents allow him to go).
     
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