Journal of East Asian Linguistics

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 233–265 | Cite as

On the morphological status of -te, -ta, and related forms in Japanese: evidence from accent placement

  • David Y. Oshima


The morphological structure of Japanese predicate forms with the morphemes /te/, /ta/, /tara/, /tari/, and /taQte/ (the t-morphemes) has been a point of contention. Modern grammarians have tended to consider the t-morphemes as inflectional affixes that directly follow the stem (the “attachment-to-stem” analysis). On the other hand, in the current school grammar (gakkoo bunpoo), as well as in some contemporary scholarly works, they are regarded as particles or the like following the infinitive form (ren’yookei) of a predicate (the “attachment-to-infinitive” analysis). This paper argues for the second view. With experimental data, it will be demonstrated that a t-morpheme may be separated from its host (the preceding item) by an accent phrase boundary with the host having the accent pattern expected for an infinitive form whereas inflectional affixes like /reba/ (provisional) and /ru/ (present indicative) lack this property. This prosodic contrast agrees well with the “attachment-to-infinitive” analysis while it is hard to account for under the “attachment-to-stem” analysis.


Japanese morphology Predicate paradigms Accent Particles Inflectional affixes 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of International Communication, Graduate School of International DevelopmentNagoya UniversityNagoyaJapan

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