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The ‘Fuzzy’ Boundary Between Two Types of Japanese Adjectives

  • Author / Creator
    Tariq, Ana Kanza
  • The two kinds of Japanese adjectives, i-adjectives and na-adjectives, along with nouns, employ different forms (-i, -na, and no) to modify a noun. Based on such patterns, along with other grammatical characteristics identified in constructed examples, boundaries between lexical categories have traditionally been understood to be clear-cut. However, Uehara (1998, 2003) has found a number of lexical items which inflect both as na-adjectives and nouns. In fact, Uehara finds that more than 70 percent of na-taking lexical items exhibit noun-like behaviours. Using prior research to support his claim (Rosch1978; Lakoff 1987; Taylor 1989), he has suggested that the boundaries between lexical categories might not be as clear-cut as previously conceived. This thesis supports Uehara’s proposal by highlighting a new set of data from internet discourse which suggests that the boundary between i-adjectives and na-adjectives might also be ‘fuzzy’, using examples in which what are traditionally considered i-adjectives are inflected as na-adjectives. It presents the results of two studies. The first looks at the factors of word length and frequency of use of lexical items and how they affect this ‘improper’ i-adjective conjugation in internet discourse. The second is a survey conducted to see how “natural sounding” native Japanese speakers consider this usage.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2018
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3SQ8R049
  • License
    Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.