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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: The Syntax of Possession in Japanese Add Dissertation
Author: Takae Tsujioka Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Georgetown University, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2001
Linguistic Subfield(s): Syntax;
Subject Language(s): Japanese
Director(s): Raffaella Zanuttini

Abstract: This dissertation investigates the syntax of possession in Japanese within the framework of the Minimalist Program. A primary focus is on the question of how possessive semantics is represented in syntax at the sentential level when there seems to be no designated verbs of possession – specifically, in possessives with verbs aru ‘be.inanimate’, iru ‘be.animate’, and suru ‘do’.

I seek the source of possessive semantics in the nominal domain. Adapting Szabolcsi’s (1994) analysis of Hungarian possessives, I propose that possessive sentences with aru and iru are derived from existential sentences via possessor extraction (= E-possessive). The possessor DP is base-generated within the possessee DP, and later raises to [Spec, TP] to check EPP feature of T. I show that unavailability of scrambling as opposed to topicalization follows from the general constraint on remnant movement.

My analysis of the possesives with aru and iru departs from the previous studies that view them as transitive, and the existential/locative as intransitive. Based on the restricted distributions of the possessor and the locational phrase (LP), I claim that the possessor and the LP are both eligible for T’s attraction. The claim that either the LP or the possessor could occupy [Spec, TP] appears to run counter to traditional 'subjecthood' tests that suggest only the possessor counts as a 'subject.' I offer a minimalist account capitalizing on the difference in the categorical status of the possessor and LP.

I also observe curious interactions between inalienable possession and adjectival modification in possessives with aru, iru, and suru. I argue that the structures of alienable and inalienable possessors differ in such a way that extraction of inalienable possessors, but not alienable possessors, is obstructed by the presence of modification.

Finally, I address various peculiar properties of the possessive with suru. I claim that this type of possessive does not involve possessor-raising. I argue that suru is not a lexical verb, but a spell-out of a functional category whose main function is to introduce an external possessor. I show that a similar construction can be found in Yaqui bahuvrihi possessives and English possessional adjectives, albeit in slightly different forms.