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The linguistic integration of Japanese ideophones and its typological implications

  • Kimi Akita (a1)

This article proposes that two linguistic systems (that is, two languages or registers) with different degrees of morphosyntactic integration of ideophones may apply the same restrictions on ideophones in different ways. In Study 1, the author shows quantitatively that the sentence-type restrictions reported for ideophones in several languages also constrain Japanese ideophones, but to a lesser extent. In Study 2, the author argues that two previously identified restrictions on Japanese ideophonic verbs appear to apply only partially to ideophonic verbs in baby talk and highly playful discourse. It is concluded that the strength of these restrictions is negatively correlated with the overall degree of morphosyntactic integration of ideophones in the language or register.


Cet article propose que deux systèmes linguistiques (c'est-à-dire deux langues ou deux registres d'une langue) dans lesquels les idéophones sont morphosyntactiquement intégrés à des degrés différents peuvent appliquer les mêmes restrictions aux idéophones, mais de façon différente. Dans une première étude, l'auteur montre de manière quantitative que les restrictions sensibles au genre de phrase qui ont été observées dans plusieurs langues contraignent aussi les idéophones japonais, mais dans une moindre mesure. Dans une deuxième étude, on argumente que deux restrictions précédemment identifiées sur les verbes idéophoniques japonais semblent ne s'appliquer que partiellement aux verbes idéophoniques dans le langage de bébé et le discours ludique. L'auteur conclut que la force de ces restrictions est négativement corrélée avec le degré global d'intégration morphosyntaxique des idéophones dans la langue ou le registre donné.

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An earlier version of section 4 was presented at the “Structuring sensory imagery: Ideophones across languages & cultures” workshop (University of Rochester, 2 May 2014). An earlier version of section 5 was presented at the “Typology of event semantics and argument encoding” workshop at the Thirtieth Conference of the English Linguistic Society of Japan (Keio University, Mita Campus, 11 November 2012). I thank both audiences for their insightful comments. My sincere gratitude also goes to the editors of this special issue as well as the two anonymous CJL reviewers. Any remaining inadequacies are my own. This study was partly supported by three JSPS Grants-in-Aid (no. 24720179, no. 25370425, no. 15K16741) and by a Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation grant (no. FFI2013-45553-C3).

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