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



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 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bekki, Daisuke. 2010. Nihongo bunpoo no keishiki riron: Katsuyoo taikei, toogo koozoo, imi goosei [Formal theory of Japanese grammar: Conjugation paradigm, syntactic structure, and semantic composition]. Tokyo: Kurosio Publishers.Google Scholar
  2. Bloch, Bernard. 1946. Studies in colloquial Japanese I: Inflection. Journal of the American Oriental Society 66: 97–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Booij, Geert. 2007. The grammar of words: An introduction to linguistic morphology. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Davis, Stewart, and Natsuko Tsujimura. 1991. An autosegmental account of Japanese verbal conjugation. Journal of Japanese Linguistics 13: 117–144.Google Scholar
  5. Dixon, R.M.W. 2010. Basic linguistic theory, volume 1: Methodology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Frellesvig, Bjarke. 2010. A history of the Japanese language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gimon. 1844. Katsugo shinan [A guide to conjugation]. Reprinted in Gimon. 1976. Katsugo shinan, Tomokagami, Wagosetsu no ryakuzu. Tokyo: Benseisha.Google Scholar
  8. Halpern, Aaron L. 2001. Clitics. In The handbook of morphology, ed. A. Spencer, and A.M. Zwicky, 101–122. New York: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  9. Hashimoto, Shinkichi. 1948. Shinbunten bekki: Koogohen [An addendum to New grammar: Modern Japanese]. Tokyo: Fuzambo.Google Scholar
  10. Haspelmath, Martin. 2000. Periphrasis. In Morphology: An international handbook on inflection and word-formation, vol. 1, ed. G. Booij, C. Lehmann, and J. Mugdam, 654–664. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  11. Haspelmath, Martin, and Andrea D. Sims. 2010. Understanding morphology, 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Iwasaki, Shoichi. 2002. Japanese. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  13. Kubozono, Haruo. 1993. The organization of Japanese prosody. Tokyo: Kurosio Publishers.Google Scholar
  14. McCawley, James D. 1968. The phonological component of a grammar of Japanese. The Hague: Mouton.Google Scholar
  15. Martin, Samuel E. 1967. On the accent pattern of Japanese adjectives. Language 43: 183–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Martin, Samuel E. 1987. The Japanese language through time. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Martin, Samuel E. 1988. A reference grammar of Japanese. 1st Tuttle ed. Rutland: Tuttle.Google Scholar
  18. Nakamatsu, Takeo. 1999. Okinawago no bunpoo [The grammar of Okinawan language]. New ed. Naha: Genken Shuppan.Google Scholar
  19. Narrog, Heiko. 1998. Nihongo dooshi no katsuyoo taikei [The inflection system of Japanese verbs]. Nihongo Kagaku 4: 7–30.Google Scholar
  20. Nishiyama, Kunio. 1999. Adjectives and the copulas in Japanese. Journal of East Asian Linguistics 8: 183–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Oshima, David Y. 2006. Boundary tones or prominent particles? Variation in Japanese focus-marking contours. In Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, vol. 31, no. 1, ed. R. T. Cover and Y. Kim, 453–464. Berkeley: University of California, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  22. Rickmeyer, Jens. 1995. Japanische Morphosyntax. Heidelberg: Julius Groos.Google Scholar
  23. Sasaki, Kan. 2005. Nihongo dooshi keitairon ni okeru inritsuteki tan’itsusei [Prosodic uniformity in Japanese predicate morphology]. In The Handbook of the 130th Meeting of Linguistic Society of Japan, 152–157. Kyoto: Linguistic Society of Japan.Google Scholar
  24. Shibatani, Masayoshi. 1990. The languages of Japan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Sunakawa, Yuriko, Satoshi Komada, Mitsuko Shimoda, Mutsumi Suzuki, Sayo Tsutsui, Akiko Hasunuma, Andrej Bekes, and Junko Morimoto, eds. 1998. Kyooshi to gakushuusha no tame no nihongo bunkei jiten [A dictionary of Japanese phrase patterns for teachers and learners]. Tokyo: Kurosio Publishers.Google Scholar
  26. Suzuki, Shigeyuki. 1972. Nihongo bunpoo/keitairon [Japanese syntax and morphology]. Tokyo: Mugi Shobo.Google Scholar
  27. Suzuki, Shigeyuki. 1996. Keitairon: Josetsu [Morphology: Prolegomena]. Tokyo: Mugi Shobo.Google Scholar
  28. Takahashi, Taro, Hisakazu Kaneko, Akihiro Kaneda, Michiko Sai, Tai Suzuki, Jun’ichi Suda, and Hirotake Matsumoto. 2005. Nihongo no bunpoo [Japanese grammar]. Tokyo: Hituzi Syobo.Google Scholar
  29. Teramura, Hideo. 1984. Nihongo no shintakusu to imi [The syntax and meaning of Japanese], vol. 2. Tokyo: Kurosio Publishers.Google Scholar
  30. Todoroki, Yasuko. 1993. Tookyoogo no bunmatsushi no onchoo to keiyooshi/dooshi no akusento ni tsuite [On the tonal properties of sentence-final particles and accents of adjectives/verbs in the Tokyo dialect]. Studium 20: 14–34. Osaka University of Foreign Studies.Google Scholar
  31. Tsujimura, Natsuko. 2007. An introduction to Japanese linguistics, 2nd ed. Malden: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  32. Vance, Timothy J. 1993. Are Japanese particles clitics? The Journal of the Association of Teachers of Japanese 27: 3–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Vance, Timothy J. 2008. The sounds of Japanese. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Watanabe, Minoru. 1997. Nihongoshi gaisetsu [An overview of the history of the Japanese language]. Tokyo: Iwanami.Google Scholar
  35. Yamaguchi, Akiho, and Morihide Akimoto, eds. 2001. Nihongo bunpoo daijiten [A dictionary of Japanese grammar]. Tokyo: Meiji Shoin.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations