怖がる a contraction?

So I came across 怖がる and it felt like a contraction, something like 怖いがある. I didn’t find any references for this but does anyone know?

こわいがある wouldn’t be grammatical, so it doesn’t seem like a plausible thing to contract to me, but I guess ancient Japanese can be weird.

I always assumed がる came from some meaning of かる and developed into a suffix. I don’t have any evidence for that, it was just my assumption.

I assume you’re aware that ~がる is a grammar point, the standard way of expressing the feelings and thoughts of others.

こわい > こわがる
はずかしい > はずかしがる
したい > したがる

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And to read a bit more in depth about this:

https://imabi.net/garu.htm

Essentially in Japanese it’s not grammatical to affirmatively speak to someone else’s wants, emotions, feelings, etc. so you use the auxiliary verb がる attached to the い-adjective stem (怖 in the case you mentioned) or な-adjective to make observations about this other person.

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Yeah I think I’ve been looking up all the ある contractions and got carried away.

I did find this post suggesting it’s from あがる.

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Reviving this thread about こわがる.

Can someone please explain why WK and other sites are reporting こわがる as being intransitive, despite example sentences using をcomplement?

WK’s example:
私の主人は逆さ睫毛の手術を受けるのをとても怖がっていたんですよ。

Takoboto’s example:
彼女はヘビをとてもこわがっている。
She has a great fear of snakes.

I believe it’s this point:

The を is marking the cause of the fear. Just as you can be scared “of something” even though “to be scared” is intransitive.

I think of it as an indirect object that uses を rather than に for “reasons”. :wink:

And really, when you’re learning it, just think of it as a set phrase.

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Thanks alo, but i am not really convinced :sweat_smile:
It seems to match a pattern “someone fears something”, and を seems to mark the object.

Is it that “transitive” does not actually means that the transitive verb has an object?
Does “transitive” imply that the subject has an impact on the object? Or something else?

@Leebo, could you please help here? Thanks.

In Koujien, it’s listed as 自動詞 and the example sentence given is 暗闇を怖がる.

So I don’t really see why it matters why, but use を. I’ve never heard anyone use it with に or something else.

Maybe it’s helpful to differentiate between the English terms transitive/intransitive and the Japanese terms 他動詞/自動詞. The English terms refer to the structure of a sentence where a verb like „to bite“ can be used in a transitive or an intransitive manner: The dog bites the man. vs The dog bites.
In Japanese on the other hand words are either 他動詞 or 自動詞, and this does not depend on the syntax of a sentence they are used in, but on their semantics/meaning. So no matter if you say 寿司を食べる。 or 食べた。in both sentences the verb is 他動詞, although the English translation would use them transitively and intransitively.

Yeah, but usually if a word is described as intransitive in Japanese it does not take a direct object marked by を. You can have indirect objects marked by を, but those tend to be locations or positions in space. 怖がる certainly acts like a transitive verb. I’m not sure what the reason is for it being listed as intransitive. There are a variety of possibilities. But knowing the label of the verb is ultimately less important than knowing how to use the word.

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I agree with you, that these labels are not that important and I think they can sometimes be misleading, because they simplify things too much. I just tried to explain that transitivity is a fuzzy construct in English and it’s a different kind of fuzzy construct in Japanese. :v::smile:

Here’s an in depth but fairly confusing explanation of why が and を are somewhat interchangeable:
https://www.imabi.net/gavswo.htm

I don’t pretend to understand it, but basically を can be used with intransitive verbs sometimes, even outside of what @Leebo was saying about locations …

Only with specific verb forms, as mentioned there. To me, both ways of thinking of it make sense. Like with ~たい, が treats the word like an adjective, and を treats it like the verb it originally was.

There’s a lot mentioned there and unfortunately, not much explained adequately (maybe I just need to read the whole of imabi to get it…) :sweat:

I dunno about specific verb forms though - there’s a lot of examples in various forms and several of the explanations seem to be fairly general. I’m not sure if it just seems like it’s talking about specific verb forms because of a lack of examples.

Who knows…as you said it’s not all that important to being able to use the language anyway

Almost everything in the examples, except for を好き (and maybe a few other things, I didn’t scour it completely), is either a potential verb or a ~たい form verb. That’s the bulk of where you have a choice between them. Even something like 分かる looks “normal” but it has the potential meaning embedded in it.

I suppose it’s possible to frame it from as something deep about を vs. が themselves, but the times when you can consider choosing one or the other are fairly limited in the grand scheme of things.

Also, I’m not sure there’s much relevance to 怖がる, because が will never be an option for the を-marked word (without inverting the meaning).

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I see (sort of), thanks. Hopefully, things will get clearer as I learn more…

Then yeah, the がる suffix explanation seems the best one to me. Looking through the Takoboto examples, all the ones that use を look like they should be that one as well.

Maybe the WK crew confused 怖い + がる and the intransitive 怖がる when they were writing the example sentence…

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