Japanese Floating Classifiers
Queens College/CUNY Graduate Denter
Japanese classifying expressions have the form
[hon-3.satu]-o 3 books [lit: book-3.volume]-acc. Argument classifiers may
float away from their NP giving hon-o 3.satu, while adjunct classifiers
may not, and *mise-de san.ken at 3 stores [lit: store-at 3.buildings] is
bad (Inoue 1978). Kitahara (1993) citing Kamio (1983) claims that the
floated structure is basic and that it is a constituent DP. Kitahara
tests for constituency using conjunction with to and, but it is not clear
that to selects for DPs. Compare: [747-ga Narita-kara 4.ki] to [737-ga
Kankuu-kara 5.ki] tobitatta Four 747s from Narita and five 737s from
Kankuu took off. The case marking of the to-conjoined constituents
contrasts with the genitive case usually found in complex nominals (cf.
[np747-no Narita-kara-no 4.ki]). In contrast to this, Fukushima (1991,
1993) argues that 3.satu in both positions (and others) is simply an
adverb. While this hypothesis more accurately captures the distribution
of classifying expressions, how we derive the agreement between the noun
and its classifier is not clear. Further, neither Kitahara nor Fukushima
can explain why only argument classifiers float.
I begin with the syntax and semantics of Japanese
case-marking. Let say that all nominal elements in Japanese have the
syntax: [xp [qp NP [q Number] [q Classifier]] particle]. As Kitahara
proposes, agreement between the NP and Classifier is determined by
Head-Spec within QP. The specific label of XP depends on the semantic
contribution of the particle. Arguments (ga, o) are DP, while adjuncts
(de, kara) are PP. Both arguments and adjuncts allow the XP-internal
[xp[qp ]-particle] structure, although it should be noted that the
classifying element is actually optional. I will assume that all
NP-external QPs (i.e. the floated ones) are selected by an adverbial PP
with an empty head giving us the same [xp [qp NP [q Number] [q
Classifier]] particle] structure. Paralleling Fukushima, I treat the
floated classifiers as adverbs. Although these adverbial classifiers have
a null head, for other kinds of adverbs, the head may be overtly realized
as ni or other particles. Given that all XPs (argument, adjunct,
adverbial) select for a QP, differences between the various XPs stem from
the differing semantic contribution of the XP head.
What is the semantic contribution of the various XP heads?
Adopting the version of event semantics used in Kratzer (1996) (where
agents are introduced separately), I propose that the accusative case
marker o has the semantics o*=lxlQle[Q(x)(e)] so that (hon-o)*= lQle
[Q(book)(e)]. (Note: l: 'lambda'.) In contrast, particle de which indicates a location has the
semantics de*=lxlQle [at(e)=x & Q(e)] and at the store is
(mise-de)*=lQle[at(e)=store & Q(e)]. Particle o is a predicate of events
and individuals, selecting a transitive VP in need of a direct object.
Particle de is a predicate of events only. Adopting the semantics for
classifiers found in Krifka (1995), [hon-3.satu]-o 3. books has the
semantics (hon-3.satu-o)*=lQle [Q(book)(e) & RT(x, volume) &
OU(volume)(book)=3] where a book is a volume and the number of volumes
which are books is 3. Semantic agreement between the noun and its
classifier is confirmed at this point. Likewise, an adjunct expression
such as at 3 stores is (mise-3.ken-de)*=lQle[at(e) = store & Q(e) & RT(x,
building) & OU(building)(store)=3]. In both cases, the resulting
expression is a predicate of events selecting for a saturated predicate.
Recall that the floated quantifier is selected by an
empty-headed adverbial. I propose the following semantics for this
adverb: lQlxle[Q(x)(e)], so that (3.satu-)*=lQlxle[Q(x)(e) & RT(x, volume)
& OU(volume)(book)=3] and (3.ken-)*=lQlxle[Q(x)(e) & RT(x, building) &
OU(building)(store)=3]. Combining with a verb, say kau*= lxle[buy(x)(e)],
results in (3.satu- kau)*=lxle[buy(x)(e) & RT(x, volume) &
OU(volume)(book)=3] which may then combine with the direct object giving
(hon-o 3.satu- kau)*=le[buy(book)(e) & RT(x, building) &
OU(building)(store)=3] which is exactly right for buy three books.
Crucially, the adverbial classifier is a predicate of events and
individuals, and it is defined so that its QP must be construed via lx as
counting an argument of the verb. Agreement between the classifer and the
direct object is forced by the fact that the variable in the classifer and
the variable in the predicate must be the same.
In contrast, (3.ken kau)*= lxle[buy(x)(e) & RT(x,
building) & OU(building)(store)=3] is grammatical, but it can mean only
buy 3 buildings. Again, the adverbial classifier is defined so that its
QP must count an argument of the verb. Quite likely, there will be an
agreement mismatch between the actual direct object and the adjunct
classifer. If the verb is intransitive to begin with, as in (3.ken
matu)*=le[wait(e) & RT(x, building) & OU(building)(store)=3], the variable
x introduced by the classifier will never be bound. In either case, the
derivation will be ill-formed. Classifiers floated off of adjuncts cannot
be correctly interpreted. If by chance there is no mismatch between the
adjunct classifer and the direct object, the classifer will simply be
understood as counting the direct object and not the adjunct.
In short, there is one kind of QP which is predicated of
individuals. This QP is selected by various kinds of XPs: PP, DP, and
adverbial PP, all of which are of different semantic types. PP is
predicated only of events, while DP is predicated of both events and
individuals. Given the representations outlined here, DP classifiers can
float (and PP classifiers cannot) because the adverbial PP is also defined
as a predicate of both events and individuals. Such a representation
forces semantic agreement between the classifer and an argument of the
verb. The core of the analysis explains how an adverbial can agree with
an argument noun. The agreement is built into the semantics and is not,
strictly speaking, syntactic. This has been a problem in more than one
language (French comes to mind), and to the degree possible other
languages will be addressed. In addition, the analysis here might also be
extended to a number of quantifying expressions in Japanese (existential,
universal, etc.) all of which have the syntax of adverbials.
Fukushima, K. (1991) Phrase Structure Grammar, Montague semantics, and
floating quantifiers in Japanese. Linguistics and Philosophy 14.
Fukushima, K. (1993) Model theoretic semantics for Japanese floating
quantifiers and their scope properties. Journal of East Asian Linguistics
Inoue, K. (1978) Nihongo no Bunpoo Kisoku [Grammatical Rules of
Japanese] Taisyuukan, Tokyo.
Kamio, Akio (1983) Meishiku no kozo. In Kazuko Inoue (ed.), Nihongo no
Kihon Kozo. Sanseido, Tokyo.
Kitahara, H. (1993) Numeral classifier phrases inside DP and the
specificity effect. Japanese/Korean Linguistics 3. 171-186.
Kratzer, A. (1996) Severing the external argument from its verb. In: J.
Rooryck and L. Zaring (eds.), Phrase Structure and the Lexicon. Kluwer,
Dordrecth and Boston. 109-137.
Krifka, M. (1995) Common nouns: a contrastive analysis of Chinese and
English. In: G. Carlson and F. J. Pelletier (eds.), The Generic Book.
University of Chicago Press, Chicago. 398-411.
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Previously held Penn Linguistics Colloquium: PLC22 (1998), PLC21 (1997)
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