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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."



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Dissertation Information


Title: On the Wordhood of Complex Predicates in Japanese Add Dissertation
Author: Yo Matsumoto Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Stanford University, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 1992
Linguistic Subfield(s): Syntax;
Subject Language(s): Japanese
Director(s): Joan Bresnan
Peter Sells
Matt Shibatani
William Poser

Abstract: This dissertation is about the nature of the notion 'word' as it relates to Japanese complex predicates. The main theme of the work is that the notion 'word' must be relativized to at least three different senses: morphological, grammatical, and semantic (cf. Bresnan & Mchombo 1995). A 'word' is an atomic unit in grammar (Di Sciullo & Williams 1987), but this atomicity can be approached in various ways. The notion 'word' can be defined in terms of its morphological integrity: the word is a unit whose parts cannot be separated from each other. It can also be defined in terms of grammatical-functional properties: in the case of a verb, for example, the 'word' is the unit that governs the verb's grammatical functions such as subject and object, and it is also the unit to which so-called grammatical function-changing operations apply, such as passivization. Finally, the word can be defined semantically, as a unit of meaning; it is a unit that conveniently packages meanings into integrated bundles.

The task of this work is to explore the notion 'word' with regard to a variety of so-called complex predicates in Japanese, to determine in what sense they are one word and in what sense they are not. I propose various tests to identify wordhood in different senses and then apply these tests to advance an analysis of complex predicates in Japanese. The predicates and constructions that are discussed in this light include the mora(w)(-u) and hoshi(-i) constructions, light verb constructions, desiderative predicates, causative predicates, aspectual and other compound verbs, lexical compound verbs, and purposive and participial complex motion predicates. Alternative proposals on such complex predicates and constructions, involving argument transfer (Grimshaw & Mester 1988), incorporation (Baker 1988), restructuring (Miyagawa 1987), and Predicate raising (e.g., Kuno 1973, Shibatani 1978), are also thoroughly reviewed and discussed.

The results of these tests turn out to be consistent, supporting the distinction of three different senses of wordhood. It is shown that this observation can be insightfully captured in the theory of Lexical-Functional Grammar (Bresnan 1982, Bresnan & Kanerva 1989), in which these different senses of word atomicity can be equated to a definition of the word at the three syntactic levels of representation currently conceived in this theory: constituent, functional, and argument structure. In addition, concrete proposals are also made regarding constraints on semantic wordhood (an issue rarely discussed in the literature), drawing on insights from cognitive and conceptual semantics (e.g., Talmy 1985, Jackendoff 1990).