Japanese Subjects and Case

Nominative-Genitive Conversion and Multiple Nominative Constructions

Subjects of Japanese clauses are typically marked with -ga, but in certain embedded contexts the genitive marker -no can occur instead. This alternation is correlated with semantic properties (scope) but also syntactic ones (clausal finiteness). Moreover, a recent change in the language means that -o marked objects are unacceptable with a -no subject for many younger speakers. This work explores how to derive these facts in minimalist terms, by exploring the structure of relative clauses more carefully. In addition, Japanese Multiple Nominative Constructions (where multiple arguments of the same predicate are marked with -ga) offer further insight into the usage of -no: not -ga marked constituents can be marked with -no, and the class of MNCs is syntactically heterogeneous. This also casts doubt on the plausibility of a single operation of Multiple-Agree yielding -ga marking on multiple constituents.

Ahn, Byron. 2007. Asymmetries in Japanese Multiple Nominative Constructions: Evidence from Interaction with Nominative-Genitive Conversion, ms. UCLA. Ahn, Byron. 2006. Nominative-Genitive Conversion in Japanese: A Consequence of the Syntax. Honors Thesis, Cornell.