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

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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.

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The authors would like to thank the audience at the 1992 Southern California Japanese/Korean Linguistics Conference at San Diego State University, as well as two anonymousJEAL reviewers, for their comments on the paper. We would also like to thank Natàlia Díaz-Insensé for proofreading and formatting the final draft.

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Kaplan, T.I., Whitman, J.B. The category of relative clauses in Japanese, with reference to Korean. J East Asian Linguis 4, 29–58 (1995).

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  • Relative Operator
  • General Restriction
  • Relative Clause
  • Operator Movement
  • Clause Complementizer