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Incorporation and argument structure in Japanese

Michiko Terada, University of Massachusetts Amherst


A Noun Phrase must have some kind of thematic role in order to be interpreted in a sentence. These thematic roles are considered to be assigned by a predicate with an argument structure in the Government and Binding framework, which is assumed in this dissertation. An argument structure specifies what thematic roles a predicate has to assign. This dissertation is concerned with how such thematic relationships can be related to structural relationships. It is argued by Baker (1988) that identical thematic relationships between items must be represented by identical structural relationships. This direct correlation between thematic relationships and structural relationships is a simple and ideal tool for a child acquiring a language. Whenever two items which are thematically related appear, their structural relationship is the same anywhere. Baker's claim argues for the Unaccusative Hypothesis of Relational Grammar, which claims that the subjects of some non-agentive verbs originate in the object position. The claim also argues against lexical derivation of complex predicates. This is because the thematic relationship in a clause must be maintained even when the clause is embedded as a complement clause. As a consequence, Baker's claim argues that the affixation of complex predicates takes place in syntax. We will argue that there is a syntactic operation called Incorporation in Japanese, which observes the structural relationships between theta-related items. The types of incorporation in Japanese that we discuss are Noun Incorporation and Verb Incorporation. We further argue, considering the interaction among complex predicates, that Incorporation can take place at different levels. Some cases of Incorporation take place in the mapping from S-structure to D-structure, and other instances of incorporation take place at the level of Phonological Form (PF).

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Terada, Michiko, "Incorporation and argument structure in Japanese" (1990). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9035411.