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LINGUIST List 16.2124

Sun Jul 10 2005

Qs: Japanese Word Order; Object Topic Marker

Editor for this issue: Jessica Boynton <jessicalinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Victor Hidalgo, Japanese Word Order
        2.    Irina Nikolaeva, Object Topic Marker

Message 1: Japanese Word Order
Date: 10-Jul-2005
From: Victor Hidalgo <bittorhidalgoeuskalnet.net>
Subject: Japanese Word Order

It is everywhere rigidly claimed that Japanese is (always) a rigid verb
final language. But has always been so? I have no reference about Japanese
historical and dialectal word order development and variation, and I would
thank any.

My concern would be to know if Japanese has always and everywhere been so a
rigid-verb-final language? Or on the contrary, as it is the case of other
characteristics (cf. Gottlieb, 2005), verb rigid finality is also a claime,
more or less born or rigidly developed at the last century, with the
general standardization process of Japanese? Beside, I would definitely
want to know if even current Japanese spontaneous (oral) word order is so
rigidly verb final as claimed? Because between some other, at least P.M.
Clancy (1982) or Matsumoto (2003) claim that Japanese spoken word order is
not so rigid (as Matsumoto says, 4: Japanese spoken discourse consists not
only of basic canonical SOV word order constructions involving
pre-predicate elements, but also of marked word order constructions
involving post-predicate elements). And Shibamoto (1985, ap. Gottlieb 2005,
14) «found that women often reverse the normal word order, putting the
subject after the predicate», where predicate seems to include the verb).

Then, what is Japanese rigid verb final condition, a description or a
desideratum? And if Japanese is so a rigid verb final language how can the
current Japanese hearer or listener manage to easily understand verb final
long (very long) sentences, as those with verbs of thinking or saying?
Maybe, it is necessary for them to start reading (not listening, of couse,
they can not) by the end to understand sentences, as it is usually
recommended for foreigners («Sometimes it is good to start from the end of
the sentence and work your way to the beginning. In that way you will learn
the most important info first (the verb) and move to what is made to happen
and who does it.»). Because cognitive processement constrictions seem to be
more or less similar for humankind, ... And by the same way, how does
children language work? Is it also so rigid verb final always?

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics

Message 2: Object Topic Marker
Date: 10-Jul-2005
From: Irina Nikolaeva <irina_a_nikolaevayahoo.com>
Subject: Object Topic Marker

Dear Linguists,

If anyone knows of a language that has a topic marker (particle, case
affix, clitic ...) used exclusively on direct objects, please let me know.

Many thanks in advance.

Irina Nikolaeva

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax

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