A Diachronic Contrastive Study of Japanese Interrogatives

Project leader:KINSUI Satoshi
Invited Professor, NINJAL
Research field:Japanese linguistics


Centered on interrogatives, this study explores historical changes in the syntactic structure of the Japanese language. While interrogative constructions are relevant to the foundation of the syntactic structure of Japanese and of profound interest, there are few studies that survey interrogatives from a diachronic perspective. An investigation of the history of interrogatives has the potential to vastly increase our knowledge of the syntactic structure of the Japanese language.

More precisely, the study will do the following:

  1. Examine the change of Nomura’s ‘word order constraints’ based on Old and Early-middle Japanese literature through historical corpora, and establish hypotheses about the changes of syntactic structure
  2. Carry out syntactic and semantic research on the difference between interrogatives that can construct ‘kakari-musubi’ and those which cannot
  3. Look into the loss of ‘kakari-musubi’ and its relationship to the development of replacement sentence patterns
  4. Study the origin and further developments of indirect interrogatives
  5. Investigate the relationship between interrogatives with ‘no’ and those without.

The above research is mainly corpus-based. Moreover, in combination with contrastive studies of interrogatives and focus constructions in modern dialects and languages around the world, it is expected to bring greater validity to the theory.