It has been widely known since Harada (1971) that in Japanese, the nominative Case marker can be converted into the genitive Case marker in a prenominal sentential modifier. This distinctive property of Japanese is known as the Nominative-Genitive Conversion (NGC), and constitutes one of the central issues in Japanese syntax. One major property of NGC in Japanese is that (overt) object NPs cannot be present when the subject is genitive (Transitivity Restriction). Recent syntactic studies suggest that the crucial ingredients of this restriction directly follow from properties of UG. Then, a question arises as to whether this syntactic constraint emerges early in the acquisition of Japanese. In order to address this question, the author conducted an experiment with 32 Japanese-speaking children, ranging in age from 3;11 to 6;07 (mean age 5;06). The results succinctly indicate that the Transitivity Restriction on NGC is already in the grammar of Japanese-speaking preschool children.
Proceedings of the 3rd Conference on Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America (GALANA 2008)
edited by Jean Crawford, Koichi Otaki, and Masahiko Takahashi
Table of contents