Anaphor reconstruction in Japanese relative clauses
An experimental study
This study conducted two experiments to examine the derivation of the head noun phrase in Japanese relative clauses, with a focus on whether the anaphors jibun ‘self’ and jibun-jishin ‘self-self’ within the head noun phrase can be co-referential with the relative clause subject. It aims to settle a long-standing debate among the previous studies concerning the interpretation of the anaphors inside the head noun phrase: while several studies claimed that the co-reference between the anaphor jibun ‘self’ and the relative clause subject is prohibited, many other studies argued that such co-reference is possible. In addition, it has been claimed that while co-indexing the anaphor jibun with the relative clause subject might be marginally acceptable, it would become fully acceptable if we replace jibun with the morphologically complex anaphor jibun-jishin ‘self-self’, which implies that the morphological make-up of an anaphor may affect its ability to be co-indexed with the relative clause subject.The results of two carefully controlled truth value judgment experiments show that neither the simplex anaphor jibun nor the complex anaphor jibun-jishin within the head noun phrase of relative clauses can take the relative clause subject as its antecedent, which suggests that the head noun phrase does not reconstruct and therefore lends support to the pro-binding analysis of Japanese relative clauses. Moreover, the findings also suggest that the morphological make-up of an anaphor does not affect its ability to take the relative clause subject as its antecedent, despite the claim that it is more acceptable to co-index the complex anaphor jibun-jishin with the relative clause subject than the simplex anaphor jibun.
Keywords: Japanese, relative clause, head noun phrase, anaphor
Published online: 17 March 2021
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