Some syntactic properties of psychological adverbs in Japanese

Kaori Miura


This paper presents a comprehensive theory for the licensing of Japanese Psychological Adverbs (PAs, e.g. oisiku ‘deliciously’, omosiroku ‘interestingly’) being grounded on their syntactic, interpretations, and lexical properties. PAs can appear in at least three different types of constructions. One of the constructions where Agent of the main verb and Experiencer of a PA is identical will be examined in particular. Investigating their syntactic and semantic characteristics, the paper claims that PAs are structurally licensed when they are c-command by the local Agent, following the same structural condition that Ernst (2002) argues for subject-oriented (SO) adverbs. There is a set of data that seems to contradict this condition, but I argue that the data indeed exhibits PAs’ another property: they are polarity-sensitive. In order to comprise this lexical property into the condition aforementioned, I classify PAs into three types being based on Ernst’s (2009) PPI trichotomy for speaker-oriented adverbs (SpOAs).


psychological adverbs; the scope theory of adverbs; polarity sensitivity; Japanese

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