A Phonological, Morpho-Syntactical Study of Nominal Compounding in Japanese

Wenchao Li


This paper provides a distributed-morphological analysis of nominal compounding in Japanese in an effort to pin down the phonological, morphosyntactic mechanism in nominal compounding. The findings reveal that the semantic relation between the N1and N2 has seven variations: Object + Tran.conj.; Instrument + Tran.conj.; Modifier - Tran.conj.; Place - Tran.conj.; Method - Tran.conj.; Cause - Tran.conj.; and Subject –tran. conj..Among the variations, sequential voicing is only subject to [Nobject - N TRAN.conj.] nominal compounds. Moreover, during the process of forming a nominal compound, the second constituents (N2) rendered by aspirate consonants /k/ and /t/ are very likely to receive sequential voicing. When the N2 is conveyed by consonant /c/ and fricative consonant /h/, sequential voicing does not occur. Syntactically, Japanese nominal compounds are all right-headed. The formation process of all nominal compounds is a matter of ‘word derivation’ given the fact that, (i) √Root and the latter added morphemes are not semantically associated and it is after the merger that the semantic interpretation is established, and (ii) the N-N’s category is determined by the added morphemes. In addition, lexicalisation plays an essential role during the nominal compounding process. Crucially, lexicalisation only applies to the[Nobject - N TRAN.conj.] type of compound.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/ijl.v11i5.15185

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