Journal of East Asian Linguistics

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 167–211 | Cite as

Syntactic predication in Japanese

  • Caroline Heycock


This paper argues that Japanese provides evidence for an independent syntactic relation of predication. Predication is shown to be an independent syntactic relation in two respects. First, evidence from the multiple nominative construction in Japanese and two constructions in English demonstrates that predication is independent of the thematic structure of heads: a phrase may be the subject of a syntactic predicate in the absence of θ-role assignment.

Second, it is argued that the subject—predicate relation is defined in configurational terms: a syntactic predicate is a maximal projection, and must have a subject in an external position. Consequently, complements of the verb cannot be syntactic subjects. This prediction is borne out by theDat-Nom constructions in Japanese, where the nominative argument is not a syntactic subject. These constructions are contrasted with apparently parallel constructions in German, the different behavior of which is argued to follow from the existence of a null expletive in this language.

Finally, on the basis of the data presented in the paper, a revision to the θ-Criterion is proposed.


Thematic Structure Maximal Projection External Position Parallel Construction Theoretical Language 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caroline Heycock
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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