The V-Neg-V complex predicates, two types of negation, and grammaticalization in Japanese

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In this article, I argue for the existence of a complex predicate containing negation in the form of [[V-Neg]-V]. If Neg is a functional category, this will falsify the prohibition against syntactic verb incorporation that picks up a functional head to reach a lexical head, or the Principle of Lexical Integrity, which in effect prohibits merger of any functional category within a complex word or any application of syntactic operation (movement or deletion) that targets part of a complex word. It will be argued, however, that these complex predicates are not considered bona-fide counterexamples to these hypotheses or principles of word formation because negation in Japanese can be a lexical adjective. Moreover, in cases where negation behaves as functional category, I argue that the lexical verb that selects the negation is grammaticalized to an aspectual functional category. The assumptions regarding the syntactic ambiguity of negation and grammaticalization will help us understand how complex predicates expand their host class and ultimately transform into a full-fledged construction. This will also shed light on the issue of whether and how some complex predicates can retain their lexical properties after the entire construction has been grammaticalized. The bidirectional change toward grammaticalization and lexicalization can be understood from a ‘constructionalization’ viewpoint.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103399
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Dec


  • Grammaticalization
  • Japanese
  • Lexical Integrity Principle
  • Lexical/functional distinction
  • Negation-containing complex predicates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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