Journal of East Asian Linguistics

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 1–27 | Cite as

Complement selection and wh-scope in Japanese

  • Tomoyuki YoshidaEmail author


Lahiri (Questions and answers in embedded contexts, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2002) shows that the semantic categories <propositions> , <questions> , and <utterances> play a crucial role for complement selection in Spanish. This paper argues that Lahiri’s analysis can be directly applied to Japanese. In the course of discussion, the behavior of the sequence of complementizers (-no-ka-to) is examined in detail. It is suggested that we can analyze Japanese verbs and s-selection in a parallel way with Lahiri’s analysis of Spanish verbs if we extend Saito’s (J Jpn Linguist 26:85–100, 2010; Beyond functional sequence: the cartography of syntactic structures, vol 10, pp 255–274, 2015) analysis of the Japanese complementizer -to. It is also suggested that the behavior of verbs selecting commands as their complement can be captured if an additional semantic category <commands> is postulated. Moreover, it is demonstrated that the distinction between a question and a report of a question is crucial for wh-scope interpretation. In particular, a question CP ceases to constitute an island for wh-scope interpretation when it is embedded as part of a report. This observation suggests that an account of wh-island effects along the line of minimality effects cannot be employed to explain the interpretation of wh-phrases embedded in a report of a question.


Complementizers Complement selection Question particles Semantic categories Wh-scope 


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I would like to thank Shigeru Miyagawa, Atsushi Oho, Hiroaki Saito, Mike Kleindl and Satomi Nomura for comments and suggestions on earlier versions of this paper. I would also like to thank three anonymous reviewers for their invaluable and helpful comments. Special thanks to Daniel Quintero for his help with Spanish data. All errors are mine.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology and LinguisticsInternational Christian UniversityMitakaJapan

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