View Full Version : Describing roads in Japanese

05-29-2007, 06:30 AM
For a scientific study that I might be doing in the future, I am trying to figure out if Japanese permits me to construct pairs of sentences about roads and other long, narrow geographic features, with very specific properties.

In English, the natural way to talk about a road is using something called fictive motion. You say "The road runs from here to there." Run is a motion verb, but the road is not moving. You can avoid using this construction, but the sentence sounds a bit funny: "The road is between here and there."

I've just finished a study in English that hinges on the difference between those and similar pairs of sentences. Now I'm thinking about a follow-up that involves brain-wave scanning (ERP, specifically) The problem with that is, in English the part of the sentence that varies between fictive motion and non-fictive motion is in the middle. Brain scanning works best for this sort of thing when the part of the sentence that varies is at the end. It occurred to me that Japanese tends to put verbs at the ends of sentences, and so it might be possible to do what I want by translating the experiment into Japanese (obviously then I would have to experiment on native speakers of that language, but they are not hard to find in San Diego).

So my question is, first, when you talk about long, narrow, non-moving geographic features in Japanese, is it natural to use verbs of motion like "run"? And second, is it possible to construct pairs of sentences like the one up top, with the difference in content being that one uses a motion verb and the other doesn't, but expressing approximately the same meaning, and all the words that change are at the end of the sentence? It is not good enough if the verb at the end changes but some particles in the middle change too. It has to be just the last few words in the sentence.

Thanks in advance.

05-29-2007, 07:04 AM
Sorry, but you lost me at "For a scientific study . . " Now if you want to know something about mindless TV, then hey, I'm your gal. I hope one our smarter posters can help you with this one.


05-29-2007, 08:41 AM
I'm not a native speaker by any means, but when I was in Japan I remember them usually using copular verbs to describe the existence and spatial confines of a road.

But ask someone who knows for sure.