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From words to structure : how syntax can affect the distribution and interpretation of verbs and their arguments, three case studies from Japanese


Under the assumption that the lexicon and syntax are independent modules of grammar, one must account for the m̀apping' between these two modules, i.e. how the information in the lexicon is projected onto syntax. In this dissertation, I investigate the nature of the mapping system by examining three case studies from Japanese that involve the same predicates exhibiting variable syntactic and semantic behaviors and propose analyses in which their variable behaviors are derived from their underlying syntactic structures without postulating multiple lexical entries. Chapter 2 examines passive constructions with two different by-phrases. I argue that the syntactic and semantic differences between the passive constructions with the two by-phrases can be accounted for by adopting an independently proposed generalization about reconstruction of A-moved arguments as well as an independently proposed hypothesis that judgment forms are syntactically encoded. Chapter 3 examines four aspectual verbs. I argue that the variable syntactic and semantic behaviors exhibited by four Japanese aspectual verbs as a natural class and variable behaviors within individual aspectual verbs can be accounted for if they are analyzed as functional heads encoding aspectual distinctions in syntax. Chapter 4 examines a group of two-place verbs with alternating complement marking (the accusative-oblique alternations). I argue that the accusative-oblique alternations are transitive-unaccusative alternations whereby single verbs are associated with two fundamentally different underlying syntactic structures. Throughout these chapters, arguments for my analyses are supported by experimentally elicited sentence acceptability judgments. By demonstrating that the variable syntactic and semantic behaviors exhibited by these predicates can be successfully accounted for with syntactic structures that are motivated by independently proposed generalizations and empirical evidence, this dissertation presents novel arguments for the hypothesis that syntax at least partially determines the distribution and interpretation of verbs and their arguments

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