Journal of East Asian Linguistics

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 307–331 | Cite as

The size of noun modifiers and degree quantifier movement

  • Junko ShimoyamaEmail author


Direct attributive uses of adjectives have often been considered a characteristic property of adjectives. Recent studies suggest, however, that some languages lack direct modification by adjectives entirely and that they only allow for indirect modification using relative clauses. At first glance, Japanese seems to fit into the group of languages that lack direct adjectival modification, and this is in fact a widely accepted view on Japanese adjectival modification. This paper presents evidence for noun modifiers without the support of finite TP and CP in Japanese, using scopal behavior of degree quantifiers as a probe into the modification structure. Japanese adjectival modifiers do not show the scope island effect for degree quantifiers that is expected under the view that they are finite relative clauses. If our analysis is on the right track, there is no need for a stipulation in the grammar of Japanese to block adjectives from forming direct modifiers.


Modification Adjectives Relative clauses Degree quantification Superlatives Scope island effect Japanese 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aihara, Masahiko. 2007. Japanese superlative constructions: Evidence for ‘est’-movement. In Proceedings of the 37th annual meeting of the North East Linguistic Society (NELS 37), vol. 1, ed. Emily Elfner, and Martin Walkow, 87–100. Amherst: GLSA, University of Massachusetts.Google Scholar
  2. Aihara, Masahiko. 2009. The scope of –est: Evidence from Japanese. Natural Language Semantics 17: 341–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alexiadou, Artemis. 2001. Adjective syntax and noun raising: Word order asymmetries in the DP as the result of adjective distribution. Studia Linguistica 55: 217–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baker, Mark C. 2003. Lexical categories: Verbs, nouns, and adjectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beck, Sigrid, Toshiko Oda, and Koji Sugisaki. 2004. Parametric variation in the semantics of comparison: Japanese vs English. Journal of East Asian Linguistics 13: 289–344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Belikova, Alyona. 2008. Syntactically challenged rather than reduced: Participial relatives revisited. In Proceedings of the 2008 annual conference of the Canadian Linguistic Association, 1–15.Google Scholar
  7. Bhatt, Rajesh. 2006. Covert modality in non-finite contexts. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bhatt, Rajesh, and Shoichi Takahashi. 2011. Reduced and unreduced phrasal comparatives. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 29: 581–620.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bowers, John. 1969. Surface structure interpretation in English superlatives. Master’s Thesis, MIT.Google Scholar
  10. Cinque, Guglielmo. 2010. The syntax of adjectives: A comparative study. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Clancy, Patricia. 1985. The acquisition of Japanese. In The crosslinguistic study of language acquisition, vol. 1, ed. Dan I. Slobin, 373–524. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  12. Dixon, R.M.W. 1982. Where have all the adjectives gone?. Berlin: Mouton.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Farkas, Donka F., and Katalin E. Kiss. 2000. On the comparative and absolute reading of superlatives. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 18: 417–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Frank, Paul. 1990. Ika syntax. Arlington, TX: SIL and University of Texas, Arlington.Google Scholar
  15. Heim, Irene. 1985. Notes on comparatives and related matters. Master’s Thesis, University of Texas at Austin.Google Scholar
  16. Heim, Irene. 1999. Notes on superlatives. Master’s Thesis, MIT.Google Scholar
  17. Heim, Irene. 2001. Degree operators and scope. In Audiatur Vox Sapientiae: A festschrift for Arnim von Stechow, ed. Caroline Féry, and Wolfgang Sternefeld, 214–239. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag.Google Scholar
  18. Howard, Edwin. 2008. Superlatives, NPIs and Strawson-entailment. Honours Thesis, McGill University.Google Scholar
  19. Huang, C.-T. James. 1982. Logical relations in Chinese and the theory of grammar, Ph.D. dissertation, MIT.Google Scholar
  20. Jackendoff, Ray. 1972. Semantic interpretation in generative grammar. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  21. Jacobs, Roderick A., and Peter S. Rosenbaum. 1968. English Transformational Grammar. Waltham, Mass.: Ginn.Google Scholar
  22. Kayne, Richard. 1994. The antisymmetry of syntax. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  23. Kennedy, Christopher. 2007. Modes of comparison. In Proceedings of CLS 43, ed. Malcolm Elliott, James Kirby, Osamu Sawada, Eleni Staraki, and Suwon Yoon. Chicago: University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  24. Kim, Min-Joo. 2002a. Does Korean have adjectives? MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 43, ed. T. Ionin et al., 71–89. Cambridge, Mass.: MITWPL.Google Scholar
  25. Kim, Min-Joo. 2002b. The absence of adjectives and noun modification in Korean. In Proceedings of the 2002 international conference on Korean Linguistics. Seoul: Hankwuk Mwunhwasa.Google Scholar
  26. Kuno, Susumu. 1973. The structure of the Japanese language. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  27. Kusumoto, Kiyomi. 1999. Tense in embedded contexts. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.Google Scholar
  28. Kusumoto, Kiyomi. 2002. The semantics of the non-past -ta in Japanese. In Proceedings of the third formal approaches to Japanese linguistics, 163–180. MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 41. Cambridge, Mass.: MITWPL.Google Scholar
  29. Larson, Richard. 1999. Semantics of adjectival modification. Lecture notes. Amsterdam: LOT Winter School.Google Scholar
  30. Larson, Richard, and Naoko Takahashi. 2007. Order and interpretation in prenominal relative clauses. In Proceedings of the second workshop on Altaic Formal Linguistics, ed. M. Kelepir and B. Öztürk, MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 54. Cambridge, Mass.: MITWPL.Google Scholar
  31. Larson, Richard, and Hiroko Yamakido. 2008. Ezafe and the deep position of nominal modifiers. In Adjectives and adverbs: Syntax, semantics, and discourse, ed. L. McNally, and C. Kennedy, 43–70. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Lasnik, Howard, and Mamoru Saito. 1992. Move: conditions on its application and output. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  33. Lyu, H.-Y. 2004. Focus and superlative center in Korean. Presentation handout for LIN 393: Seminar on Noun Phrase Modification, University of Texas at Austin.Google Scholar
  34. Makino, Seiichi, and Michio Tsutsui. 1986. A dictionary of Japanese grammar. Tokyo: Japan Times.Google Scholar
  35. Miyagawa, Shigeru. 1984. Lexical categories in Japanese. Lingua 73: 29–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Miyagawa, Shigeru. 2008. Genitive subjects in Altaic. In Proceedings of the workshop on Altaic Formal Linguistics 4, MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 56. Cambridge, Mass.: MITWPL.Google Scholar
  37. Murasugi, Keiko. 1991. Noun phrases in Japanese and English: A study in syntax, learnability and acquisition. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Connecticut.Google Scholar
  38. Nishiyama, Kunio. 1999. Adjectives and the copulas in Japanese. Journal of East Asian Linguistics 8: 183–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Nishiyama, Kunio. 2005. Morphological boundaries of Japanese adjectives: Reply to Namai. Linguistic Inquiry 36: 134–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ogihara, Toshiyuki. 2004. Adjectival relatives. Linguistics and Philosophy 27: 557–608.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Paul, Waltraud. 2005. Adjectival modification in Mandarin Chinese and related issues. Linguistics 43: 757–793.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rice, Keren. 1989. A grammar of slave. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  43. Richards, Norvin. 2008. Wh-questions. In The Oxford handbook of Japanese linguistics, ed. Shigeru Miyagawa, and Mamoru Saito, 348–371. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Ross, J.R. 1964. A partial grammar of English superlatives. MA thesis, University of Pennsylvania.Google Scholar
  45. Ross, J.R. 1967. Constraints on variables in syntax. Ph.D. dissertation, MIT.Google Scholar
  46. Sharvit, Yael, and Penka Stateva. 2002. Superlative expressions, context, and focus. Linguistics and Philosophy 23: 453–504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Shibatani, Masayoshi. 1978. Nihongo no bunseki [Analysis of Japanese]. Tokyo: Taishukan.Google Scholar
  48. Shimoyama, Junko. 2008. Indeterminate pronouns. In The Oxford handbook of Japanese linguistics, ed. Shigeru Miyagawa, and Mamoru Saito, 372–393. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Shimoyama, Junko. 2011. Degree quantification and the size of noun modifiers. In Japanese/Korean linguistics, vol. 18, ed. William McClure, and Marcel den Dikken, 356–367. Stanford: CSLI Publications.Google Scholar
  50. Shimoyama, Junko. 2012. Reassessing crosslinguistic variation in clausal comparatives. Natural Language Semantics 20: 83–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Smith, Carlota S. 1961. A class of complex modifiers in English. Language 37: 342–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Smith, Carlota S. 1964. Determiners and relative clauses in a generative grammar of English. Language 40: 37–52. (Reprinted in Modern Studies in English, ed. D.A. Reibel and S.A. Schane, 1969), 247–263. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.)Google Scholar
  53. Sproat, Richard, and Chilin Shih. 1991. The cross-linguistic distribution of adjective ordering restrictions. In Interdisciplinary approaches to language: Essays in honor of S.-Y. Kuroda, ed. C. Georgopoulos and R. Ishihara, 565–593. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  54. Sudo, Yasutada. 2009. Invisible degree nominals in Japanese clausal comparatives. In Proceedings of the 5th workshop on Altaic formal linguistics, ed. Reiko Vermeulen and Ryosuke Shibagaki. Cambridge, Mass.: MITWPL.Google Scholar
  55. Szabolcsi, Anna. 1986. Comparative superlatives. MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 8, ed. Naoki Fukui et al., 245–265. Cambridge, Mass.: MITWPL.Google Scholar
  56. Szabolcsi, Anna. 1994. The noun phrase. In Syntax and semantics, vol. 27: The syntactic structure of Hungarian, ed. Ferenc Kiefer and Katalin É. Kiss, 179–274. San Diego: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  57. Teodorescu, Alexandra. 2006. Adjective ordering restrictions revisited. In Proceedings of the 25th west coast conference on formal linguistics, ed. Donald Baumer, David Montero, and Michael Scanlon, 399–407. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.Google Scholar
  58. Urushibara, Saeko. 1993. Syntactic categories and extended projections in Japanese. Ph.D. dissertation, Brandeis University.Google Scholar
  59. Vander Klok, Jozina. 2009a. Direct adjectival modification in Javanese. In Proceedings of the sixteenth meeting of the Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association (AFLA 16), ed. Sandy Chung, Daniel Finer, Ileana Paul, and Eric Potsdam, 211–225.
  60. Vander Klok, Jozina. 2009b. Indirect modification in Javanese: Evidence from attributive comparatives. In Proceedings of the 45th annual meeting of the Chicago Linguistics Society (CLS 45), 625–639. Chicago: University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  61. Vander Klok, Jozina. To appear. On the nature of adjectival modification: A case study in Javanese. In Proceedings of the 40th annual meeting of the North East Linguistic Society (NELS 40), GLSA, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.Google Scholar
  62. Whitman, John. 1981. The internal structure of NP in verb final languages. In Proceedings of the 17th annual meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society (CLS 17), 411–418. Chicago: University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  63. Whorf, Benjamin Lee. 1945. Grammatical categories. Language 21: 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Yamakido, Hiroko. 2005. The nature of adjectival inflection in Japanese. Ph.D. dissertation, Stony Brook University.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

Personalised recommendations