Head-Internal Relative Clauses in Japanese: Clefts and the Two no da Constructions

Date of Award

August 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics


Jaklin Kornfilt


clefts, head-internal relative clauses, Japanese, no da construction, syntax

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities


In this thesis, I investigate head-internal relative clauses (HIRCs) in Japanese. There are a number of previous studies on HIRCs such as the LF movement analysis (Ito 1986), the E-type pronoun analysis (Shimoyama 1999), and the DP analysis (Hasegawa 2002). I propose, however, that HIRCs are derived from the no da focus construction. My analysis is inspired by Hiraiwa and Ishihara's (2002) proposal that Japanese clefts are derived from the no da construction because these two focus constructions share a lot of similarities such as the possibility of multiple foci, and the impossibility of the mono substitution and the ga-no conversion. I revise Hiraiwa and Ishihara's (2002) derivation of clefts based on Miyagawa (2010); I claim that clefts are topic sentences that do not involve [+focus] feature.

The motivation behind the derivation of HIRCs from the no da construction is that they share similar properties just as the relationship between clefts and the no da construction; HIRCs allow multiple heads (cf., multiple foci), but disallow the mono substitution and the ga-no conversion. I argue, however, that there are two no da constructions in Japanese --- propositional assertion and assertion with focus as Paul and Whitman (2008) find them in Mandarin Chinese. The propositional assertion no da construction does not involve [+focus] and derives clefts. On the other hand, the assertion with focus no da construction involves [+focus] and derives HIRCs.


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