Journal of East Asian Linguistics

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 29–58 | Cite as

The category of relative clauses in Japanese, with reference to Korean

  • Tamar I. Kaplan
  • John B. Whitman


Relative clauses in Japanese and Korean appear to represent a minimal contrast: modern Japanese lacks the affixal complementizers characteristic of adnominal clauses in Korean. The absence of overt complementizers has frequently been related to the hypothesis that adnominal clauses in Japanese have less structure than their counter-parts in languages with overt complementizers. This paper argues that the absence of an overt head in this specific case does not indicate the absence of a CP projection. The behavior of the copula in Japanese relative clauses and the distribution of the overt complementizerno both provide support for an analysis positing an empty complementizer position. At the same time, certain apparent peculiarities of relative operator movement in Japanese, in particular the clause-boundedness of adjunct relative operator movement, are also found in Korean and therefore cannot be attributed to the absence of a relative clause complementizer and its projection. These peculiarities reflect instead a general restriction on null operators which severely restricts their availability in relative clause structures, with the consequence that the adjunct relative clauses in question are in fact gapless.


Relative Operator General Restriction Relative Clause Operator Movement Clause Complementizer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tamar I. Kaplan
    • 1
  • John B. Whitman
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of IowaIowa City
  2. 2.Department of Modern Languages and LinguisticsCornell UniversityIthaca

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