LINGUIST List 11.889

Mon Apr 17 2000

Qs: Japanese Nominative Marker "ga", "Tiny Little"

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>

We'd like to remind readers that the responses to queries are usually best posted to the individual asking the question. That individual is then strongly encouraged to post a summary to the list. This policy was instituted to help control the huge volume of mail on LINGUIST; so we would appreciate your cooperating with it whenever it seems appropriate.


  1. G Halliday, Japanese Nominative Marker ga
  2. Hank Mooney, "tiny little" query

Message 1: Japanese Nominative Marker ga

Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2000 12:43:04 +1200
From: G Halliday <>
Subject: Japanese Nominative Marker ga

I am doing some work on the status of the Japanese Nominative Marker "ga" in
mostly stative sentences of particularly the following types:

Osushi ga suki da.
Tenisu ga heta da.

 or structures such as

Nihongo ga wakaru.
Osushi ga tabetai.
Osushi ga taberareru.

The most popular view is that the NP preceding ga is an object. I am looking
for references to counter arguments to such views or discussion on them.

Geordie Halliday
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: "tiny little" query

Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2000 15:41:34 -0700
From: Hank Mooney <>
Subject: "tiny little" query

Does anyone know of any published work on expressions like:

He drove a tiny little Morris Minor.

Or even:

She had a small little purse in which she kept everything but the
kitchen sink.

"Little" doesn't often stand alone as an adjective in these kinds of
expressions in my dialect (I'm a native speaker of American English, 52
years old). Why the (semantic) duplication?

One possibility: without the intervening word, there might be a garden
path misinterpretation, i.e., the listener might construe the string "a
little" as a quantifier, and expect the sentence to end something like this:

He drove a little further until he saw the gas station.


She had a little money left after eating dinner, so decided to treat
herself to desert.

Any other explanations?

I'll post a summary.

Hank Mooney
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue