Evidence for a proper treatment of the clausal/manner distinction: comments on Kubota, “Transforming manner adverbs into surface-subject-oriented adverbs: evidence from Japanese”


This paper holds that Kubota’s (2015—this volume) treatment of the clausal/manner distinction among subject-oriented adverbials in Japanese is basically on the right track, although there are a number of areas that need work. Kubota invokes the idea of different comparison classes for the two readings, which seems to get at the distinction correctly; and she makes a plausible case for the manner reading as basic, with the clausal reading induced by the particle -mo. Still, there remain important questions about how this idea would fit into a cross-linguistic account of subject-oriented adverbs, whether it is indeed correct to take the manner reading as basic, and whether her account of passive-sensitivity is adequate.

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I owe thanks to Seth Cable, Ilaria Frana, and Chisato Kitagawa for discussion of the issues herein, and to Chisato Kitagawa, Yoshi Kitagawa, and Naoko Nemoto for help with Japanese data. But I claim responsibility for any errors.

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Correspondence to Thomas Ernst.

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Ernst, T. Evidence for a proper treatment of the clausal/manner distinction: comments on Kubota, “Transforming manner adverbs into surface-subject-oriented adverbs: evidence from Japanese”. Nat Lang Linguist Theory 33, 1047–1055 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11049-015-9289-5

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  • Subject-oriented adverbials
  • Comparison classes
  • Agent orientation
  • Passive sensitivity