- The Cambridge handbook of Japanese linguistics ed. by Yoko Hasegawa
Thanks in part to a long tradition of study and careful description within Japan, the facts of Japanese have always provided a challenge to the development of linguistic theories based on the more commonly studied Indo-European languages. Arguably, that challenge began in earnest in the mid-1960s, when Susumu Kuno graduated from Harvard and S.-Y. Kuroda graduated from MIT. Their work (exemplified in Kuno 1973, 1987, Kuroda 1965, and the collection of papers published in Kuroda 1992) and the work of hundreds of scholars from around the world continue to have a central impact on how linguistics is taught and studied. With this history, it is not a complete surprise that Japanese linguistics is the subject of at least three handbooks published to date: by Blackwell (Tsujimura 1999), Oxford (Miyagawa & Saito 2008), and now Cambridge. In considering the merits of the Cambridge volume, it is worth considering what has preceded.
The Cambridge handbook is edited by Yoko Hasegawa, Professor of Japanese Linguistics in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Berkeley. As a scholar and teacher of both Japanese language and linguistics, Hasegawa brings an admirable breadth to the work. The volume is divided into five thematic parts. Part I, 'Overview', begins with an introduction by the editor that describes the structure of the volume and gives a brief linguistic description of Japanese. Much of what is introduced here is greatly expanded upon in later chapters. The rest of Part I consists of chapters that cover the history and typology of Japanese, source and direction in grammaticalization, dialects, and writing and literacy. Part II is titled 'Sound system and lexicon', with chapters that cover moras, syllables, pitch accent, intonation, mimetics, and events and properties in syntax and morphology. Part III is titled 'Grammatical foundation', with chapters that cover case, subjects versus topics, negation, tense and aspect, modality, reflexives, and word order and extraction. Part IV, in contrast, is focused on 'Grammatical constructions', with chapters that address nominalizations (generally), along with clausal noun modification and internally headed relativization (more specifically), benefactives, passives, and conditionals. Finally, the chapters in Part V address questions of 'Pragmatics/sociolinguistics'. Topics include sentence-final particles, politeness, speech style shift, discourse and conversation analysis, and gender and sexuality.
A review of the topics covered in the two earlier handbooks reveals significant overlap, although there is much in this volume that is brand new as well. The overlap in topics is not really a surprise. Questions about moras/syllables, subjects/topics, word order and extraction, case, politeness, and tense/aspect, for example, are of long-standing interest to scholars of Japanese as well as to scholars of other languages. We return to them again and again. Of note, however, are the chapters on benefactives, conditionals, mimetics, modality, negation, sentence-final particles, speech styles, and others, as these topics are addressed in a handbook for the first time in this volume. This surely reflects advances in the field, but it also reflects favorably on the choices made by the editor and the publisher.
This is a much larger volume than either of its predecessors, with twenty-nine articles written by as many scholars of Japanese language and linguistics. In looking over the lists of contributors to the various handbooks, there is also remarkably little overlap from one volume to the next. (The one exception to this generalization, it must be noted, is Haruo Kubozono, who is the only scholar who has contributed to all three handbooks, although on different topics.) This lack of overlap may be linked to two facts: (i) as already noted, a wider range of topics is addressed in this volume when compared to its predecessors, and (ii) the authors in this volume tend to work in a functional framework, rather than, for example, a generative framework. (This is the explicit [End Page 200] theoretical approach of the Oxford handbook. The Blackwell volume actually offers the...