Affix borrowing and structural borrowing in Japanese word-formation

Akiko Nagano, Masaharu Shimada

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The wealth of English loanwords in the contemporary Japanese lexicon is well-known and constitutes a traditional research topic in Japanese linguistics. In contrast, there are very few previous studies that systematically investigate Japanese word-formation material and schemas copied from English. As a preliminary attempt to fill the gap, this paper examines the borrowing of three different English grammatical items: the adjectivalizing suffixic, the possessive pronoun my, and the preposition in. While the first case is affix-to-affix borrowing, the latter two cases are borrowing of grammatical words as word-formation items. First, -ic is borrowed as an adjectivalizing suffix, which, however, differs from the model in the type of adjectives produced. Next, the copy of my functions as a prefix that produces nouns with an anaphoric nature, which are reminiscent of self-N forms in English. The most complicated of the three are nominal modifiers involving the copying of in. In some cases, the model lends its surface form only; in other cases, its form and head-first structure are both replicated. To account for the qualitative mismatches between the donor model and recipient copy, the authors emphasize certain typological differences between the two languages involved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-84
Number of pages25
JournalSKASE Journal of Theoretical Linguistics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • English
  • Grammatical borrowing
  • Japanese
  • Language contact
  • Word syntax
  • Word-formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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