Date of Completion


Embargo Period



pleonastic, expletive, phase, theta-marking, Japanese, gerund, tense, last resort, economy, negation

Major Advisor

Zeljko Boskovic

Associate Advisor

Jonathan Bobaljik

Associate Advisor

Susanne Wurmbrand

Associate Advisor

Mamoru Saito

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


The thesis examines the structure of Japanese between tense and the main predicate, focusing on the order of the heads of the relevant phrases, appearing at the right edge of the sentence. This part of structure is superficially rather chaotic, and appears to raise serious problems for the assumption that there is a fixed universal phrase structure hierarchy, i.e. the phrases between tense and the predicate in Japanese appear to have a more complicated distribution than what can be readily explained merely by adopting fixed, universal selectional properties for the heads in question. This thesis shows that once certain factors are taken into consideration, in particular the pleonastic nature of certain elements, it is possible to put order into the superficially messy picture. This leads to a re-examination of the theoretical status of pleonastics, in particular, how they are merged into the structure. Several proposals to this effect are made, the gist of which is that pleonastics are not present in the numeration; they are inserted into the structure as last resort when the derivation can no longer proceed with lexical insertion from the numeration. The dissertation also proposes an approach to phases which combines some aspects of the existing approaches but still significantly departs from them. The gist of the approach to phases argued for is that a theta-role assigner starts a phasal domain, with the highest projection in the domain functioning as the phase. The domain is closed when the next theta-role assigner is merged, with the sister of the theta-role assigner functioning as a phase.

Regarding the empirical domain of investigation, the thesis examines the distribution of a number of heads in the right periphery of the Japanese sentence, including (but not limited to) gerundive te, i that is attached to adjectival roots, negative ana, past tense ta, and non-past tense ru (focusing on the cases where a sentence appears to have two occurrences of tense regarding the last two). One of the main ingredients of the proposed analysis is that certain elements that have not previously received such a treatment, like te and ru, are pleonastics.