Journal of East Asian Linguistics

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 41–61

If Chinese is head-initial, Japanese cannot be


DOI: 10.1007/s10831-009-9038-z

Cite this article as:
Takita, K. J East Asian Linguist (2009) 18: 41. doi:10.1007/s10831-009-9038-z


One of the important topics in current syntactic theory is whether there is a directionality parameter in Universal Grammar. Based on the observation that the presence of Chinese sentence-final aspectual particles blocks movement out of their complement, Lin (Complement-to-Specifier movement in Mandarin Chinese. MS., National Tsing Hua University, 2006) argues that each of these particles is the head of an underlyingly head-initial phrase and that the surface head-final order is derived by movement of its complement. Thus, movement out of it violates the Condition on Extraction Domain [CED: Huang (Logical relations in Chinese and the theory of grammar. PhD dissertation, MIT, 1982)]. Taking this analysis as a diagnostic that distinguishes a derived head-final structure from a genuine one, this paper illustrates that it is not the case that Japanese head-final structures are derived from head-initial ones. Our result implies that Universal Grammar is equipped with a directionality parameter, admitting not only head-initial structures but also head- final structures.


Head parameterCondition on Extraction Domain (CED)Sentence-final particlesAspectual phraseSplit-CP hypothesis

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of HumanitiesNanzan UniversityNagoyaJapan