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  • Raising To Object In Japanese:A Small Clause Analysis
  • Michiya Kawai

1 Introduction

The Japanese exceptional Case-marking (ECM) construction, illustrated in (1b), has been most successfully analyzed as an instance of subject raising to object (RO), as in (1c) (e.g., Kuno 1976, Sakai 1996, 1998, Ohta 1997, Bruening 2001, Tanaka 2002).


  1. a. Kanojo-wa [sono otoko-ga sagishi da to]   shinjiteiru.
    she-TOP   the man-NOM swindler is QUOT believes 'She believes that the man is a swindler.'

  2. b. Kanojo-wa [sono otoko-o  sagishi  da to]  shinjiteiru.
    she-TOP the man-ACC swindler is QUOT believes
    'She believes the man to be a swindler.'
    (Kitagawa 1986)

  3. c. Kanojo-wa sono otoko1-o [t1 sagishi da to] shinjiteiru.

Japanese RO appears to be optional, given that the embedded subject [End Page 329] can bear either a nominative (1a) or accusative (1b) Case particle. As first noted by Ohta (1997), this can be a problem for minimalism, since movement is viewed as a last resort operation (Chomsky 1993, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2004).

This squib offers a new analysis of Japanese RO constructions; specifically, the complement of (1b) is analyzed as a small clause (a tenseless, aspectless projection) homophonic with the finite complement in (1a). Under this analysis, RO is obligatory from a small clause, but disallowed from a tensed CP. This analysis also correctly predicts the class of permissible RO predicates in Japanese, which has hitherto been unaccounted for. Section 2 sets forth two descriptive problems related to RO complements. Section 3 presents the proposal and supporting discussion.

2 Japanese Raising-to-Object Constructions

The standard RO analyses of Japanese constructions successfully draw parallels to the RO analysis of English ECM (Postal 1974, Lasnik and Saito 1991, and references therein). In both languages, an epistemic (or b-type; Postal 1974) predicate takes a [ + stative] complement; the embedded complement must be an individual-level predicate; and the embedded subject is A-moved to a position in the matrixclause where the accusative Case feature of the matrixverb is checked: say, Spec,v or Spec,AgrO. (I will use AgrO in this squib, although the choice between the two is immaterial here.)

With an RO analysis, accounting for the properties specific to Japanese, two of which I will consider here, has been a challenge. First, the standard RO analyses assume that the embedded clause in (1b) is a finite CP, unlike its English counterpart in (2b).


  1. a. She believes he/*him is a swindler.

  2. b. She believes *he/him to be a swindler.

It is so assumed because in Japanese (a) the embedded verb is in the nonpast declarative form, and (b) the quotative particle -to is analyzed as C0.1 This assumption is problematic, however. A temporal adverb is licensed in a non-RO (finite) complement with a nominative subject, but not in an RO complement, as shown in (3). For proper judgment, it is critical not to stress the accusative subject, so as to avoid a left-dislocation reading. According to Kitagawa (1986), left-dislocation in Japanese involves binding of a null embedded subject by the base-generated matrixobject, not A-movement of the accusative embedded subject. [End Page 330]

(3) Kanojo-wa daigaku-ga/*?-o     ashita yasumi da
she-TOP     university-NOM/-ACC tomorrow rest     is
to shinjiteita.
QUOT believed
'She believed that the university will be closed tomorrow.'

The contrast in (3) is not expected, if the embedded clause is a full-fledged finite clause. Further, Japanese RO, an instance of A-movement, crosses a tensed CP boundary without a tensed-S island effect, unlike the English counterpart (2a).2 To complicate the matter further, Japanese RO from a finite clause is not entirely free; RO is disallowed out of a [ + past] complement (4b) (Kuno 1976, Kitagawa 1986, Ohta 1997).3


  1. a. Kanojo-wa sono otoko-o [sagishi da[ - past]
    she-TOP     that man-ACC swindler is
    to]   shinjiteiru.
    QUOT believes
    'She believes the man to be a swindler.'

  2. b. *?Kanojo-wa sono otoko-o [sagishi datta[ + past]
    she-TOP     that man-ACC swindler was
    to]   shinjiteiru.
    QUOT believes
    'She believes the man to have been a swindler.'

The degradation of (4b...


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