Attributive subcomparatives in Japanese

Akane Ohtaka


This paper aims to explain the difference in grammaticality between Japanese attributive subcomparatives with quantity adjectives (e.g., ooku/takusan ‘many’) and those with non-quantity adjectives (e.g., omosiroi ‘interesting’). My analysis assumes that Japanese clausal comparatives involve degree abstraction (Shimoyama 2012, see also Bhatt and Takahashi 2011). Degree abstraction is generally assumed to require movement of a null degree operator. In the case of attributive clausal comparatives, the movement takes place from the left branch position. If no operation that alleviates a left branch island violation is available, we would expect that the resulting sentences would be ungrammatical. I propose that in Japanese, quantifier float can play a role in ameliorating extraction out of the left branch islands. More specifically, I argue that (i) Japanese attributive subcomparatives with quantity adjectives involve quantifier float of the quantity adjectives, and that (ii) quantifier float carries the degree operators associated with the adjectives to a position where degree operator movement can originate.


comparatives; attributive subcomparatives; quantifier float; left branch condition; Japanese

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