Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/11707/4405
Title: The Nature of Adjectival Inflection in Japanese
Authors: Yamakido, Hiroko
Keywords: Japanese Language
Morphology
Adjectives
Issue Date: 2005
Publisher: State University of New York, Stony Brook
Abstract: This thesis is a study of the inflection appearing on adjectives in Japanese. The goal of this work is to investigate the structure of adjectival constructions in Japanese and its relation to adjectival inflection. In pursuing this goal, I examine standard Japanese in comparison with other world languages, as well as several dialects spoken in Japan. Chapter 1 reviews the general patterns of inflection appearing on attributive adjectives in world languages, including English, Spanish, German, Russian, Icelandic, Swedish, Romanian, Igbo, Jukun (a Central Nigerian language) and Balanta. Comparative study suggests that inflection on adjectives in their noun-modifying function typically falls into one of the following categories: (i) agreement, (ii) case-marking, (iii) definiteness marking, (iv) incorporate/reduced relative clause material, (v) long- and short-form morphology, and (vi) adverbial marking. A simple question is: which category does Japanese adjectival morphology belong to? Chapter 2 introduces the specific data of adjectival forms in Japanese, with special attention to inflection. Japanese in unique in that it contains two morphologically distinct types of adjectives, which I call "true adjectives" (TAs) and "nominal adjectives" (NAs). I discuss the two types from morphological, syntactic and semantic perspectives, and review the main literature on the topic, which ranges from Japanese traditional grammarians in the early twentieth century to generative grammarians in the framework of Chomsky's (1970) classic feature-decomposition theory. Chapter 3 examines the nature of the attributive adjective inflection in Japanese, taking up the possibilities sketched out in Chapter 1, and introducing the most widely accepted analysis. Traditionally, grammarians and linguists have assumed that Japanese attributive adjective inflection represents incorporated/reduced relative clause material (Kuno 1973, among many others). However, I show that this idea is not sufficient to analyze alla prenominal adjectives in Japanese. I present crucial semantic data that undermine the traditional analysis. I also give evidence from distributional patterns. The tradiitonal analysis is based almost entirely on data from standard Japanese, but there is in fact great morphological variation in Japanese dialects, and in the inclusion of these patterns directly challenges the traditional view. Dialect data are introduced from previous published work as well as my own field notes. Chapter 4 further explores the nature of the inflection on attributive adjectives in Japanese. Detailed examination in the previous chapter eliminates all but one analytical possibility: case-marking ((ii) above). I argue that the status of Japanese as a case-marking language, as well as the historical development of Japanese adjectival inflection, makes the case-marking analysis plausible. I then discuss the remarkable similarity between Japanese adjectival inflection and the so-called Ezafe marking on andjectives and other nominal modifiers observed in Indo-Iranian languages such as Persian, Kurdish and Zazaki. Ezafe has been convincingly argued to be a case-marking phenomenon (by Samiian 1994), hence the parallelism lends further support to a case analysis. In the remainder of the chapter, I extend the case marking analysis of prenominal inflection to the other adjectival constructions in Japanese, including (primary) predicatives, small clauses, secondary predicatives, and adverbials. Chapter 5 constitutes a technical argument for the case-marking hypothesis. Japanese contains an elliptical construction in which a small set of Japanese true adjectives of space and time appear to license a null space/time nominal precisely when inflected with the morpheme -ku. Case-marking is known to license empty nouns in Dutch (Kester 1996) and Japanese -ku inflection appears to form a class with -i inflection insofar as -i and -ku can alternate in certain circumnstances. I argue that if -ku is analyzed as a case-marker, like -i, then the Japanese null nominals can be assimilated to the Dutch ones: both instances can be viewed as licensing of a null nominal by case-marking.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/11707/4405
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