2016 Volume 12 Issue 4 Pages 118-134
There are three types of subject markers, no, ga and ϕ in Old Japanese. This paper examines what determines the distribution of these three subject markers in noun clauses in Old Japanese. By analyzing corpus data, this paper argues that the use of the three subject markers is subject to two conditions, one is their size of structure in noun clauses, and the other is the function of strongly indicating a subject.
The main condition which determines the subject marker in noun clauses in Old Japanese is the size of noun clause structure. The particle no functions as a subject marker when the noun clauses are expanded, whereas ϕ functions as a subject marker when the noun clauses are small and closed inside the noun clauses. The particle ga's size of structure is between no and ϕ. In this paper, the size of structure correlates with the number of the complement which can appear in noun clauses. Each subject marker has a characteristic distribution in noun clauses in their usage, which indicates the use of three subject markers following their size of noun clause structure.
The particle ga also functions as the marker of strongly indicating a subject which comes from the original function of ga. However, the function of strongly indicating a subject is a secondary condition to determine the subject marker in noun clauses, because the particle ga was only on the rise as a subject marker in Old Japanese, and no and ϕ are unmarked concerning the indicating function.