Japanese causatives are not relevant to lexical integrity

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Productive Japanese causative verbs appear to form a problem for the idea that the relation between morphology and syntax is characterised by lexical integrity, meaning that the internal structure of complex words is opaque to syntax. This is because such causatives show behaviour that indicates the verb and the causative morpheme head separate syntactic clauses underlyingly, so their structure must be syntactically transparent, but nevertheless the combination of verb and causative morpheme seems to be a morphological complex. In this paper I argue that, given a modular architecture of grammar, the module in which verb and causative morpheme might be argued to be a complex word is morpho-phonology, which is not the module to which lexical integrity pertains. In the module to which this does pertain, morpho-syntax, the productive causative morpheme is a free morpheme, rather than an affix, at all levels of representation. The construction is therefore not relevant to the question of whether or not lexical integrity holds. The paper concludes with a discussion of the relationship between the productive causative and the ‘lexical’ causative, which arguably does involve a morphological complex in morpho-syntax as well as morpho-phonology. It is argued that the occurrence of the same morpheme in syntactic causatives and some lexical causatives does not imperil its status as a free morpheme in the syntactic causative.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-197
Number of pages29
JournalStudia Linguistica
Issue number2
Early online date22 Nov 2013
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


  • Japanese, causatives, lexical integrity


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