SOAS University of London

Japan & Korea Section, Department of East Asian Languages & Culture

Syntactic Structure of Japanese 2

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2017/2018
Taught in:
Term 2


Students taking MA Linguistics [Japanese] would be welcome to take this course so long as they do not also take the option course Second Language Acquisition In Japanese, which concentrates on Japanese syntax and second language acquisition in Japanese.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course, a student should have gained comprehensive knowledge and methodology of the functional issues in Japanese syntax. In addition, MA students are expected to read other journal articles or book chapters to uncover further linguistic properties of the Japanese language by comparing it with English and some other languages. These in-depth materials are discussed actively in seminars. Obligatory class discussion, book/article presentations and problem-solving exercises will help equip students with greater confidence in arguing their own points with others. This course provides students opportunities to develop their idea for further independent project in Japanese linguistics (e.g, MA dissertation).


A total of 11 weeks teaching with a 2 hour lecture and a 1 hour seminar per week.

Scope and syllabus

This course introduces students to the studies of Japanese syntax from the generative grammar and functional point of view. The topics in this course are: wa and ga, verbs of giving and receiving, demonstratives, and etc., comparing with those in English and other languages. Class time is three hours per week: two-hour lecture and one-hour seminar. During the first one-hour session in the lecture, students will present a summary of the relevant part of the text/article and discuss the problems raised in class. The other one-hour session will consist of lectures and group work on problem-solving exercises. During the one-hour seminar session, students are expected to discuss additional reading material for in-depth discussion. Full student participation is expected in these discussions. Students are also required to read texts or to prepare for presentations in advance.

Method of assessment

One-two hour written examination taken in May/June (70%) and one coursework essays of 3,000 words due at the end of Term 2 (30%).

Suggested reading

  • Harada, Shin-ichi (1971) ‘Ga-no conversion and idiolectal variations in Japanese,’ Gengo Kenkyu 60: 25-38.
  • Howard, Irwin and Agnes Niyekawa-Howard (1976) ‘Passivization,’ in (ed.) Shibatani, Masayoshi, Syntax and Semantics 5: Japanese Generative Grammar, New York: Academic Press: 201-37.
  • Kageyama, Taro (1982) ‘Word formation in Japanese’, Lingua 57: 215-158.
  • Kishimoto, Hideki (1996) ‘Split intransitivity in Japanese and the unaccusative hypothesis’, language 72: 248-285.
  • Kuno, Susumu. (1973) The Structure of Japanese Language. Cambridge: MIT Press.
  • Namai, Kenichi (2000) ‘Subject honorification in Japanese, ’ Linguistic Inquiry Vol.31, No.1: 170-76.
  • Saito, Mamoru (1985) Some Asymmetries in Japanese and their Theoretical Implications. Ph.D. dissertation, MIT.
  • Tonoike, Shigeo (1978) ‘On the causative constructions in Japanese,’ in (eds.) Hinds, John and Irwin Howard, Kaitakusha: 3-29.
  • Tsujimura, Natsuko. (2006) An Introduction to Japanese Linguistics. Oxford: Blackwell.


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