Operators and empty categories in Japanese

Date of Completion

January 1991


Language, Linguistics




This thesis discusses empty operator movement in Japanese, with special reference to relativization and comparative deletion. Major problems discussed in this thesis are outlined in Chapter 1.^ Since Kuno (1973), it has been known that Japanese relativization, unlike English relativization, does not exhibit Subjacency effects. Chapter 2 argues that this difference between Japanese and English is only apparent: the gap in Subjacency violations in Japanese relative clauses is an empty resumptive pronoun: a "last-resort" employed when movement is prohibited. On the basis of reconstruction effects, weak crossover effects, and a restriction on the relative head, I argue that Japanese restrictive relative clauses involve movement whenever possible. It is proposed, however, that non-restrictive relative clauses in Japanese are shown to employ the resumptive pronoun strategy alone.^ Chapter 3 discusses comparative deletion in Japanese, which, unlike relativization, exhibits clear Subjacency effects (Kikuchi 1989) as does English comparative deletion. However, Japanese comparative deletion has a number of important properties that are not shared by English comparative deletion. It is argued that these language-particular properties of the empty operator in comparative deletion follow from more salient properties of adjectives and quantifiers in these languages.^ Based on important similarities between comparative deletion and numeral quantifier floating in Japanese, it is argued that Japanese comparative deletion involves movement of a floating quantifier. The lack of special morphology for comparatives in Japanese is also shown to play an important role in restricting comparative deletion with adjectives in Japanese. The present analysis has some consequences for English comparatives as well. Subdeletion in English is argued to be a special case of comparative deletion in which the comparative operator is an adverbial unselectively binding the determiner position of noun phrases.^ Chapter 4 discusses the "half-relative" construction, a unique construction in Japanese which on the surface appears to be a case of relativization, but actually is a special case of comparative deletion. A number of similarities between comparative deletion and half-relatives are discussed. The lack of such a construction in English is shown to follow from the present analysis of native deletion of English and Japanese. ^