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The syntax and morphology of Japanese verbal nouns
The purpose of this dissertation is to argue that verbal nouns (VNs) in Japanese are verbs, contrary to the widely-held view that they are nouns. I will do this by examining the behavior of major VN-constructions and showing that all of their properties are consistent with the VN=V view, while there are some facts unexplainable under the VN=N view. ^ VNs have the meaning of verbs and can be used as the main predicate of clauses. This fact follows naturally from the VN=V view but cannot be explained by the VN=N view. ^ VN-sentences have identical syntactic structures as the corresponding regular-verb sentences, just as expected from the VN=V view. ^ Unlike regular verbs, however, VNs cannot support verbal affixes directly. When a VN is used in the place of a regular verb, therefore, the dummy verb su ‘do’ must be inserted between the VN and the verbal affix. I claim that this is a consequence of the fact that VNs are free morphemes whereas regular verbs are bound morphemes. This position also explains why VNs are accented like nouns rather than regular verbs. ^ VNs undergo productive ∅ -nominalization and form VN-nominals, whose surface form gives the impression that VNs can head NPs. It will be shown, however, that VNs can head a VP within the VN-nominal, a behavior explainable only under the VN=V view. ^ The final chapter examines the “Case-marking light-su construction”. It will be shown that the main predicate of the construction is an Agentive verb su, which assigns an Agent theta-role to the subject and an Accusative Case to the VN-nominal which precedes it. It will be proposed that regarding the VN-nominal as a modifier of su, with which it forms a semantic complex predicate, explains many curious properties of the construction. One of the curious properties, the “argument-raising phenomenon”, can be explained only if the VN-nominal contains a VP in which the arguments of the VN can be assigned. The behavior of this construction, therefore, also supports the VN=V view over the VN=N view. ^
Language, Linguistics|Language, Modern
"The syntax and morphology of Japanese verbal nouns"
(January 1, 2000).
Electronic Doctoral Dissertations for UMass Amherst.