GENGO KENKYU (Journal of the Linguistic Society of Japan)
Online ISSN : 2185-6710
Print ISSN : 0024-3914
Topic, Focus, and Tense in Japanese Syntactic Hierarchy
Kei YOSHIMOTO
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Volume 1993 (1993) Issue 103 Pages 141-166

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Abstract

An integrated explanation is proposed on the dependence of Japanese topic, tense, and focus on Minami's four-level syntactic hierarchy.The Japanese sentence is analyzed into this hierarchy by checking whether sentential components cooccur with each other.The four levels reflect the manner the Japanese sentence is formed by adding modular meanings to its core.
Syntactic phenomena ranging over various domains behave regularly according to this hierarchy.The subordinate clause headed by a level B particle (B-subordinate, hereafter) has the subject that obligatorily agrees with the matrix subject when topicalized.The focus of assertive and interrogative sentences excludes B-subordinates.Tense of the B-subordinate is interpreted on the basis of the temporal information the matrix
clause offers.
The paper proposes syntactic mechanisms according to which information on topic, focus, and tense is composed.In doing so it explicates the regularity observable as above, for which no explanation has ever been made, by hypothesizing that topic, focus, and tense are properties of the C-level clause.

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