A “Maximal Exclusion” Approach to Structural Underspecification in Dynamic Syntax

  • Tohru SerakuEmail author


‘Case’ and ‘grammatical relations’ are central to syntactic theory, but rigorous treatments of these concepts in surface-oriented grammars such as Dynamic Syntax are pending. In this respect, Japanese is worthy of mention; in this language, the nominative case particle ga, which typically marks a subject, may mark an object in certain syntactic contexts, and more than one instance of ga may be present within a single clause. These patterns cannot be captured if we simply assume that ga marks a subject. In the present article, we aim to advance formal aspects of the framework, especially the mechanism of ‘structural underspecification,’ by proposing that the parse of a case particle maximally excludes potential landing sites of an unfixed node at the time of parsing the case particle, delaying the resolution of the unfixed node until a subsequent stage of structure building. This maximal exclusion approach to structural underspecification accounts for a range of case marking patterns and their connections with grammatical relations.


Case Grammatical relation Parsing Incrementality Japanese 



My sincere gratitude goes to Ruth Kempson, who provided me with constructive and stimulating comments on an earlier version of this article. I appreciate the anonymous reviewers for their valuable questions and suggestions.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hankuk University of Foreign StudiesYonginKorea

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