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Compound and Complex Predicates in Japanese  

Taro Kageyama

Compound and complex predicates—predicates that consist of two or more lexical items and function as the predicate of a single sentence—present an important class of linguistic objects that pertain to an enormously wide range of issues in the interactions of morphology, phonology, syntax, and semantics. Japanese makes extensive use of compounding to expand a single verb into a complex one. These compounding processes range over multiple modules of the grammatical system, thus straddling the borders between morphology, syntax, phonology, and semantics. In terms of degree of phonological integration, two types of compound predicates can be distinguished. In the first type, called tight compound predicates, two elements from the native lexical stratum are tightly fused and inflect as a whole for tense. In this group, Verb-Verb compound verbs such as arai-nagasu [wash-let.flow] ‘to wash away’ and hare-agaru [sky.be.clear-go.up] ‘for the sky to clear up entirely’ are preponderant in numbers and productivity over Noun-Verb compound verbs such as tema-doru [time-take] ‘to take a lot of time (to finish).’ The second type, called loose compound predicates, takes the form of “Noun + Predicate (Verbal Noun [VN] or Adjectival Noun [AN]),” as in post-syntactic compounds like [sinsya : koonyuu] no okyakusama ([new.car : purchase] GEN customers) ‘customer(s) who purchase(d) a new car,’ where the symbol “:” stands for a short phonological break. Remarkably, loose compounding allows combinations of a transitive VN with its agent subject (external argument), as in [Supirubaagu : seisaku] no eiga ([Spielberg : produce] GEN film) ‘a film/films that Spielberg produces/produced’—a pattern that is illegitimate in tight compounds and has in fact been considered universally impossible in the world’s languages in verbal compounding and noun incorporation. In addition to a huge variety of tight and loose compound predicates, Japanese has an additional class of syntactic constructions that as a whole function as complex predicates. Typical examples are the light verb construction, where a clause headed by a VN is followed by the light verb suru ‘do,’ as in Tomodati wa sinsya o koonyuu (sae) sita [friend TOP new.car ACC purchase (even) did] ‘My friend (even) bought a new car’ and the human physical attribute construction, as in Sensei wa aoi me o site-iru [teacher TOP blue eye ACC do-ing] ‘My teacher has blue eyes.’ In these constructions, the nominal phrases immediately preceding the verb suru are semantically characterized as indefinite and non-referential and reject syntactic operations such as movement and deletion. The semantic indefiniteness and syntactic immobility of the NPs involved are also observed with a construction composed of a human subject and the verb aru ‘be,’ as Gakkai ni wa oozei no sankasya ga atta ‘There was a large number of participants at the conference.’ The constellation of such “word-like” properties shared by these compound and complex predicates poses challenging problems for current theories of morphology-syntax-semantics interactions with regard to such topics as lexical integrity, morphological compounding, syntactic incorporation, semantic incorporation, pseudo-incorporation, and indefinite/non-referential NPs.


PPs and Particles in Germanic  

Marion Elenbaas

Prepositional phrases (PPs) are headed by a preposition, an indeclinable word that expresses relationships between two entities, the Figure and the Ground. Prepositions are members of a larger class of adpositions, which also includes postpositions, circumpositions, and particles. The Germanic languages are predominantly prepositional, while postpositions and circumpositions are much rarer. Prepositions express either spatial (locative, directional) relationships or nonspatial (such as temporal, aspectual) relationships. PPs may function as nonargument modifiers (of verbs, nouns, adjectives) or as arguments (of verbs, nouns, adjectives). The syntax and argument structure of PPs is characterized by a range of phenomena that are found across the Germanic languages, though not necessarily to the same extent and with the same properties. A number of prepositions are homonymous with so-called particles, which feature in what is often called a particle (or “phrasal”) verb. Particle verbs are extremely common in all Germanic languages and have an array of spatial and nonspatial meanings. While there is some variation in the morphosyntactic behavior of particle verbs across the Germanic languages, they have in common that they straddle the boundary between morphology and syntax: the verb and the particle behave as a unit, and yet they are separable. Particles are often treated as intransitive prepositions (with a Figure but without a Ground) and therefore as a type of adposition. The heterogeneous nature of the category of adposition and the characteristics of PPs and particles in Germanic languages have led to considerable debate concerning the functional or lexical nature of adpositions as well as the morphological (word) status or syntactic (phrasal) status of particle verbs.