Linguistics and English Language

Meaning and grammar seminar

Speakers: Hideki Kishimoto and Osamu Sawada (Kobe University)

Speaker 1: Hideki Kishimoto (Kobe University)

Title: On the formation of secondary predicates in Japanese

Abstract: The present paper attempts to answer the question of how secondary predicates form a predication relation with their antecedents (i.e. their apparent subjects, which are overtly manifested). There are two different analyses of depictive predicates that have been advanced in the literature. In one type of analysis (e.g. Williams 1980; Rothstein 1983, 2001; McNulty 1988; McNally 1997), depictives are analyzed as directly forming a predication relation with their apparent overt subjects. In the other analysis (e.g. Chomsky 1981; Stowell 1983; Bowers 1993, 2001), depictive predicates are claimed to have their own invisible subject (PRO) and the relation between the predicates and their apparent overt subjects is mediated by PRO. Whether or not depictive predicates contain subjects inside them cannot be easily determined in languages like English, but solid empirical evidence can be adduced from Japanese. I will show that in Japanese, depictives have predicate structures comprising vP, which accommodates a PRO subject and an invisible stative verb aru ‘be’ and that the overt antecedent of PRO is interpreted as the subject of the depictive via control. Further, resultatives are shown to have predicate structures similar to depictives, in that they accommodate PRO as their invisible subject (alongside an invisible change-of-state verb naru ‘become’).

Speaker 2: Osamu Sawada (Kobe University)

Title: Expressive and expectational properties of the Japanese minimizer kakera ‘piece’ and their relationship to focus

Abstract: The Japanese word kakera literally means “piece.” However, when kakera is combined with mo ‘even’, it can behave as an idiomatic negative polarity item (NPI). The NPI kakera’s distinctive features are that it usually co-occurs with a property-related abstract noun (e.g., seijitsu-sa-no kakera-mo ‘sincerity-GEN piece-even’) and it is often used to express a complaint, as seen in the Corpus data (Balanced Corpus of Contemporary Written Japanese (BCCWJ)). I argue that, unlike typical minimizer NPIs, the NPI kakera has expressive and expectational properties in that it not only denotes a minimum degree of the property expressed in an NP, but also presupposes that the target in question is expected to have at least a minimum degree of that property and conventionally implies that a judge (typically the speaker) has an evaluative attitude (often a negative attitude, but sometimes a positive attitude) toward the target.

An important theoretical point is that although the NPI kakera has both an at-issue scalar meaning and non-at-issue meanings (presupposition and conventional implicature (CI)), it also induces a set of alternatives through its association with the focus particle mo ‘even’. This is theoretically problematic because CIs and focus are analyzed independently of one another (i.e., the former is analyzed based on a type (Potts 2005; McCready 2010; Gutzmann 2012), whereas the latter is analyzed based on an interpretive rule (Rooth 1985)). To resolve this problem, I pursue an extended multidimensional theory that deals simultaneously with at-issue meaning, non-at-issue meaning, and focus.


Seminars are organised by the meaning and grammar research group.

Meaning and grammar research group

If you'd like more information on dates and venues this semester, or if you'd like to present, please email Fred Whibley, or subscribe to our mailing list.

Fred Whibley

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Mar 10 2023 -

Meaning and grammar seminar

2023-03-10: Dual presentation

Room 2.12, Appleton Tower, 11 Crichton Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9LE