Studies in the Japanese Language
Online ISSN : 2189-5732
Print ISSN : 1349-5119
Kakarimusubi and the Indeterminate Construction: Focusing on Miyakoan
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2016 Volume 12 Issue 1 Pages 1-17


This paper discusses the complementary distribution of kakarimusubi and indeterminate constructions such as embedded questions, disjunctions and indeterminate pronouns, focusing on the data of Miyakoan, a southern Ryukyuan language.

In the history of Japanese, the particle ka was used to trigger kakarimusubi in Old and Early Middle Japanese but lost this function in Middle Japanese. After the loss of the productive use of kakarimusubi in Middle Japanese, indeterminate constructions formed with ka emerged.

With these diachronic data in mind, the dialects of the present-day Miyakoan show two remarkable contrasts in the use of ga: (1) the northern dialects of the main Miyako island have lost kakarimusubi with the question particle ga, while the southern ones retain it, and (2) indeterminate constructions with ga are possible only in the northern dialects.

Those facts suggest that the use of a particle in kakarimusubi restricts the development of indeterminate constructions with that particle. Kakarimusubi and indeterminate constructions differ in that while the former affects the sentence type of the main clause, the latter does not with the particle embedded inside the NP. The above restriction, therefore, can be explained by the hypothesis that the property of kakarimusubi appearing in the main clause influences the use of the particle in embedded contexts.

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