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An Introduction to Japanese Linguistics



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This is the 3rd edition with a publication date of 11/11/2013.
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The third edition of this established textbook has been thoroughly updated and revised. It maintains its broad coverage of topics from phonetics to language variation, and increases its accessibility by incorporating a more descriptive, less theoretical approach.

  • A fully updated new edition of this successful textbook introducing students to a wide range of issues, phenomena, and terminology in Japanese linguistics
  • Includes extensive revisions to the chapters on phonetics, syntax and phonology, and incorporates a less theoretical, more descriptive approach
  • Features the author’s own data, examples and theoretical analyses throughout
  • Offers an original approach by discussing first and/or second language acquisition within each chapter
  • Includes exercises exploring descriptive and theoretical issues and reading lists which introduce students to the research literature, both of which have been updated in this new edition

Author Biography

Natsuko Tsujimura is Chair and Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Linguistics at Indiana University. She is the editor of The Handbook of Japanese Linguistics (Wiley-Blackwell, 1999) and Japanese Linguistics: Critical Concepts (2005), and is Review Editor of the journal Language. She has published extensively on various aspects of Japanese linguistics, including phonology, syntax, semantics, and sociolinguistics.

Table of Contents



1 Introduction

Suggested Readings

2 Phonetics

1 Phonetic Inventory

1.1 Consonants

1.1.1 Stops

1.1.2 Fricatives

1.1.3 Affricates

1.1.4 Liquids

1.1.5 Glides

1.1.6 Nasals

1.1.7 Further notes on consonants

1.2 Vowels

2 Suprasegmental Feature – Accent

3 Acquisition Issues


Suggested Readings


3 Phonology

1 Phonological Rules in Japanese

1.1 Devoicing of High Vowels

1.2 Nasal Assimilation

1.3 Alveolar Alternations

1.4 [h]/[ɸ]/[ç] Alternation

1.5  Digression on the Phoneme Status of [ts, ?, š, ĵ, ɸ, ç]

1.6 Rule Ordering and the Nature of Rule Statement

2 Sequential Voicing – “Rendaku”

3 Mora vs. Syllable

3.1 Speech Errors

3.1.1 English

3.1.2 Japanese

3.2 Language Games: “Babibu” Language

3.3 Syllable-Based Phenomena

4 Length Requirements

5 Loanwords

6 Accentuation in Japanese

6.1 Compound Accentuation

6.1.1 Accentuation of Long Nominal Compounds

6.1.2 Accentuation of Short Nominal Compounds

6.1.3 Accentuation of Superlong Nominal Compounds

6.2 Accentual Variation among Endings

6.3 Accentuation of Loanwords

7 Mimetics – Palatalization

8 Acquisition Issues


Suggested Readings


4 Morphology

1 Parts of Speech Categories

1.1 Nouns

1.2 Verbs

1.3 Adjectives

1.4 Adverbs

1.5 Postpositions

1.6 Case Particles

1.7 Adjectival Nouns

1.8 Verbal Nouns

2 Morpheme Types

3 Word Formation

3.1 Affixation

3.2 Compounding

3.3 Reduplication

3.4 Clipping

3.5 Borrowing

4 Issues in Japanese Morphology (1): Transitive and Intransitive Verb Pairs

5 Issues in Japanese Morphology (2): Nominalization

6 Issues in Japanese Morphology (3): Compounding

6.1 Background

6.2 N-V Compounds

6.3 V-V Compounds

6.3.1 Lexical vs. Syntactic V-V Compounds

6.3.2 Lexical V-V Compounds: Semantic Relations

6.3.3 Lexical V-V Compounds: Transitivity and Argument Structure

6.3.4 Transitive and Intransitive Compound Verb Pairs

6.3.5 Compound Verbs and Nominalization

7 Acquisition Issues


Suggested Readings


5 Syntax

1 Syntactic Structure

1.1 Syntactic Constituency

1.2 Phrase Structures

1.3 Phrase Structure Rules

2 Word Order and Scrambling

2.1 Basic Word Order

2.2 Scrambling Phenomenon

2.3 Noun Ellipsis

3 Revlexives

3.1 Zibun

3.2 Zibun-Zisin

4 Passives

4.1 Direct Passives

4.2 Indirect Passives (Adversative Passives)

5 Causatives

5.1O-Causatives and Ni-Causatives

5.2 The Double-O Constraint

5.3 Causative Passives

5.4 Adversative Causatives

5.5 Lexical Causatives

6 Relative Clauses (Sentence Modifiers)

6.1 The Ga/No Conversion

6.2 Relative Clauses without Gaps

6.3 Internally Headed Relative Clauses

7 The Light Verb Construction

8 Acquisition Issues


Suggested Readings


6 Semantics

1 Word Meaning and Sentence Meaning

1.1 Word/Phrase Meaning and Types of Relationships

1.2 Sentence Meaning

1.3 Metaphors and Idioms

1.4 Deixis

1.5 Mimetics

2 Tense and Aspect

2.1 Tense

2.2 Aspect

2.2.1 Grammatical Aspect

2.2.2 Lexical Aspect

2.2.3 Aspectual Verbs

3 Verb Semantics

3.1 Semantic Classes of Verbs and their Syntactic Patterns

3.2 Lexicalization


4.1 Speaker’s Meaning

4.2 The Nature of Information

4.2.1 Wa vs. Ga

4.2.2 Interaction with Syntax and Morphology

4.3 Relevance of Contextual Information

5 Acquisition Issues


Suggested Readings


7 Language Variation

1 Dialectal Variation

2 Styles and Levels of Speech

3 Gender Differences

4 Acquisition Issues


Suggested Readings




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