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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Japanese passives, external arguements, and structural case


Different instances of the Japanese passive morpheme, –(r)are, show conflicting behaviors, sometimes like the prototypical passive and other times like a predicate taking a clausal complement. As such, they have resisted attempts to achieve a unified analysis. In this paper, I argue that the apparent irreconcilable differences among different instances of Japanese passives can be given a unified account with the following assumptions: i) Japanese passives are functional heads whose projection provides a structure with which an external argument is introduced, ii) only one type of the passives, Indirect Passive, is capable of proving structural case to its complement, and iii) external arguments introduced by Japanese passives receive their interpretation compositionally. According to the proposed analysis, the differences among different instances of the passive morpheme are due to a single factor: presence/absence of structural case.

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