The semantics and syntax of Japanese adnominal demonstratives

Makoto Kaneko

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper proposes some new ideas about the semantics and syntax of the Japanese adnominal demonstratives a-no, ko-no and so-no. Semantically it is claimed that, while conveying familiarity by means of the demonstrative prefixes a-, ko- and so-, they lack uniqueness or maximality, and that the whole demonstrative phrase is existentially quantified; -no either marks partitivity (without excluding maximality) in the deictic and anaphoric uses, or-in bridging uses-serves to fill an argument slot (lexically encoded inside the following NP or created contextually). This analysis is supported by (i) the availability of sluicing, (ii) the distribution of numeral classifiers, and (iii) the similar behavior of French partitive constructions with respect to the "consistency test". Syntactically, Japanese adnominal demonstratives are analyzed as NP-adjuncts, an assumption supported by three morpho-syntactic properties: (i) The demonstrative prefixes, ko-, so-, a-systematically display the same morphology as that of the WH-prefix do-; (ii) The Japanese demonstratives may be preceded by a restrictive modifier, like other adjunct modifiers; (iii) They behave with respect to the ellipsis of the following NP as other no-marked expressions clearly identified as adnominal adjuncts. These hypotheses further shed light on some data from L2 acquisition.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCrosslinguistic Studies on Noun Phrase Structure and Reference
EditorsAnne Zribi-Hertz, Patricia Cabredo Hofherr
PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9789004260825
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameSyntax and Semantics
ISSN (Print)0092-4563

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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