Journal of East Asian Linguistics

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 1–32

On the interpretation of toki-clauses: beyond the absolute/relative dichotomy


DOI: 10.1007/s10831-011-9071-6

Cite this article as:
Oshima, D.Y. J East Asian Linguist (2011) 20: 1. doi:10.1007/s10831-011-9071-6


The Japanese toki-clause, a kind of temporal adverbial clause, exhibits several interesting properties regarding the semantic interpretation and selection of an embedded tense form. This paper argues that toki is ambiguous in three ways and may indicate three different temporal relations between the matrix eventuality (ME) and the subordinate eventuality (SE): (i) ME is simultaneous with SE (the WHEN-interpretation), (ii) ME is immediately prior to SE (the RIGHT BEFORE-interpretation), and (iii) ME is immediately subsequent to SE (the RIGHT AFTER-interpretation). Problems with existing analyses that seek a uniform treatment of toki will be pointed out, and it will be demonstrated that the proposed analysis provides a thorough and consistent account of the possible interpretations of toki-clauses under different conditions.


Japanese temporal adjunct clauses Tense Absolute interpretation Relative interpretation 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of International Communication, Graduate School of International DevelopmentNagoya UniversityNagoyaJapan

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