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
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
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