[日本語 | English]
When the Japanese so-called “formal noun” koto attaches to a clause, the construction yields a sentential nominal. The previous studies (Kuno 1973, Josephs 1976) claim that the sentential nominal headed by koto denotes a more abstract concept (e.g., ‘state of affairs/fact’) than the ones headed by no, which denote more concrete objects (e.g., ‘event’). I present a novel set of data which shows that the sentential koto-nominal is not homogeneous in all linguistic contexts. In particular, the sentential koto-nominal can also denote a rather concrete entity, namely an event. In analyzing the data, we show that the semantic function of koto is uniform, but the sentential complement of koto is ambiguous between a full-fledged inflectional phrase and a reduced one, and that this syntactic difference has semantic consequences.
Last modified: 2010-06-30 20:00:25 JST