Japanese Syntactic Structures and Their Constructional Meanings

M. Kubo, 1992

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This dissertation explores the sentential structure of Japanese, of both matrix and embedded clauses, with special attention given to the configurational relation between a predicate head X0 and its arguments.  It is argued that two quite distinct sentential forms, IP and CP, are possible in Japanese.  A leading idea pursued here is that crucial factors determining the configurational relations are (i) whether a head goes through syntactic head movement (Travis 1984, Baker 1988) and (ii) whether a head is syntactically filled or empty (Emonds 1985).  Among the sentence types researched are included not only sentences with single verbs, but also predicate attribute sentences, complex verb sentences containing causative, desiderative and potential suffixes, and a representative range of embedded sentences.

In relation to head movement, I argue for a strict structural case marking analysis in the spirit of Takezawa (1987) and Morikawa (1989) and show that the configurational relations between case-assigning heads and NPs are directly mirrored by morphological case.  Both Spec-Head agreement and government are motivated as case assigning mechanisms, the former being reserved, however, for only subject-predicate relations.  A central discovery here is that the functional categories in Japanese, C, I, and D, each uniformly assign one and only one so-called nominative case ga; this in turn supports the existence of functional categories as a class.

Another effect of head movement, via case marking, relates to possible positions for subjects and their associated configurational meanings.  That is, the two well-known interpretations of NP-ga, neutral and exhaustive, are argued to result from them occupying different positions in SPEC(I) and SPEC (C).  The distributional distinctions between SPEC(C) and SPEC (I) are in turn determined by positions of the corresponding heads, which are governed by various syntactic constraints.  In the course of investigation, quite interesting parallels, until now obscured, are brought out bewteen noun phrases and sentences.

This research can be taken as a concrete effort to investigate various structural configurations and their configurational meanings, on the basis of the idea that meaning is in essential parts simply form.  Among the contrasts investigated are activity vs. stative verbs, exhaustive vs. neutral interpretations of NP-ga, and the differing syntactic and interpretive behaviors of the two clausal types CP and IP.  In a final chapter, I motivate a correlation between these two clausal structures and Kant’s two types of judgments, analytic and synthetic.

Thesis Supervisor:         Noam Chomsky

Title:                             Institute Professor

Table of Contents

Chapter 1         Introduction:  Subjects and Predicates in Japanese                                 10

            1.1       The topic marker wa and nominative ga                                     10

            1.2       A structural case marking system: preview                                             16

            1.3       Subject interpretation and sentential structure                             19

Chapter 2         The Interpretations and Structures for Nominative Case             22

            2.1       (In)compatibilities among neutral ga, exhaustive ga, and thematic

wa                                                                                                        22

            2.2       Concerning the distribution of exhaustive and neutral ga             32

                        2.2.1    An effect of constrative stress                                                    34

                        2.2.2    Correlations between the interpretations of subjects and of

predicates                                                                                 37

Chapter 3         Position of the Verb as Structural Determinant                           42

            3.1       Differences between activity and stative verbs                            43

            3.2       Object case marking and the position of the verb                                   45

                        3.2.1    A contrast in object case marking                                              45

                        3.2.2    A V-raising analysis of stative verbs                                          47

                        3.2.3    Causatives and case marking                                                     54

            3.3       On so-called gerundive forms                                                                62

                        3.3.1    The progressive form as a criterion for stativity              62

                        3.3.2    Examples of the gerundive form                                     69

                        3.3.3    Structure for the gerundive form                                                74

                        3.3.4    Stative verbs and the aspectual participles                                 76

                        3.3.5    Other constructions with –te                                                      78

                           V’-coordination                                                            78

                           IP-Subordinate Clauses with –te                                   82

                        3.3.6    Summary                                                                                  83

            3.4       Case and interpretation of subjects                                                        84

                        3.4.1    Case marking through agreement and government                      84

                        3.4.2    Subject interpretation in VP-centered sentences                        86

            3.5       The constructional meaning of I with incorporated V                  87

Chapter 4         Suru-support and the CP Projection                                                      91

            4.1       Japanese suru-support and English do-support                          91

            4.2       A syntactic structure for the suru-support construction               97

            4.3       Summary                                                                                              102

Chapter 5         Structures of Predicate Attribute Sentences                                           105

            5.1       Free and bound adjectives                                                                    106

                        5.1.1    External structure of adjectives and adjectival nominals  106

                        5.1.2    The syntactic category of so-called adjectives and adjectival

nominals in Japanese                                                                 110

                        5.1.3    Borrowing and morphology                                                       119

            5.2       Structure of predicate attribute sentences                                               121

                        5.2.1    The predicate head                                                                   121

                        5.2.2    The free copula in I and C                                                         124

                        5.2.3    Structures of the bound adjective-centered sentences    130

                        5.2.4    Subject interpretation in predicate attribute sentences     131

            5.3       Aru-support                                                                                         133

                        5.3.1    Structure of the aru-support construction                                   133

                        5.3.2    Aru-support as a device to ensure the synthetic form                 138

                        5.3.3    Difference between aru-support and suru-support                     139

            5.4       Summary:  three types of sentence form                                     141

Chapter 6         Domains and Effects of Head Movement                                               145

            6.1       The paradigms in question and previous treatments                                145

            6.2       All three syntactic structures manifested in the potential

construction                                                                                          148

                        6.2.1    The potential morpheme base-generated under I                        148

                        6.2.2    The three case-marking patterns correspond to three

positions of the predicate head                                      154

                        6.2.3    Object case alternation and the position of the verb                   159

                        6.2.4    Interpretations of analytic and synthetic forms                162

                        6.2.5    Summary                                                                                  165

            6.3       The desiderative construction                                                                167

                        6.3.1    The status of the desiderative morpheme                                   167

                        6.3.2    Case alternation with tai and the position of the verb                  169

                        6.3.3    A difference in the predicate head, A or V                                 177

            6.4       A difference between  potential and desiderative constructions   180

            6.5       Summary                                                                                              185

Chapter 7         Subordinate Clauses                                                                             188

            7.1       Subordinate clauses whose complements are CPs                                 191

            7.2       Subordinate clauses whose complements are IPs                                   199

            7.3       Subordinate clauses and nominative case inside of NP               210

                        7.3.1    Examination of clausal size                                                        210

                        7.3.2    The structure of simple NP                                                        215

                        7.3.3    The structure of NPs containing sentential complements 222

                        7.3.4    The structure of relative clauses                                     228

                        7.3.5    Summary                                                                                  234

Chapter 8         Sentence Forms and Interpretations                                                      235

            8.1       Formal vs. natural systems                                                                    238

            8.2       Constructional meanings                                                                        242