The syntax of honorification

Date of Completion

January 2003


Language, Linguistics|Language, Modern




This dissertation investigates syntactic properties of subject and object honorific agreement in Japanese. ^ In chapter 2, I examine object honorification in Japanese. I provide evidence that the element that is responsible for object honorification does not undergo movement to the specifier position of the relevant head. I give an account of object honorific agreement based on the long distance agreement as proposed by Chomsky (2000, 2001a,b). Furthermore, I argue that Miyagawa's (1997) analysis of double object constructions in Japanese, on which both the indirect object-direct object and direct object-indirect object order can be base-generated, should be rejected, the indirect object always being higher than the direct object underlyingly, and that so-called short scrambling involves movement to a higher position than v. ^ In chapter 3, I examine so-called possessor honorification in Japanese. I show that the relevant feature for honorific agreement is [+human], and that a phrase that has a [-human] feature is transparent to it. ^ In chapter 4, I investigate the interaction of honorific agreement with dative subject constructions. I provide evidence against the analysis which maintains that honorific agreement is an instance of phi-feature agreement (Ura (1996, 2000), Boeckx and Niinuma (in press)). I show that PPs, in addition to NPs, can participate in honorific agreement, while only NPs can trigger phi-feature agreement. ^ In chapter 5, I investigate honorific agreement in unaccusative constructions in Japanese. I provide evidence against analyses which maintains that the nominative NP of unaccusative verbs stays within VP in overt syntax (Yatsushiro (1999), Ura (1996, 2000)). Instead, I argue that the nominative NP overtly moves to Spec TP, passing through Spec vP, the T head undergoing subject-honorific agreement with it while it is located in Spec v P. I show that the analysis accounts for different behavior of floating quantifiers with unergatives and unaccusative verbs in Japanese. ^