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A unified semantics for the Japanese Q-particle `ka' in indefinites, questions and disjunctions

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Original languageEnglish
Article number14
Pages (from-to)1-45
Number of pages45
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jan 2018


This paper provides a compositional semantics for the Japanese Q-particle ka that properly accounts for its use in questions, indefinites and disjunctions in a unified fashion. Adopting the two-tier alternative semantics (Rooth 1985; Beck 2006), I will propose that the role of the ka-particle is always to project a set of alternatives introduced by the wh-item in the alternative-semantic dimension to the ordinary-semantic dimension (Kotek 2014). Unlike in previous analyses, I will adopt this semantics for the Q-particle not only for its clause-final use, but also for clause-internal use. Combining this with the cross-categorial existential closure, the analysis accounts for how the interpretation of a ka-ending phrase is conditioned by its syntactic environments. This mechanism enables an account of the previously unexplained parallelism between wh+ka and ka-disjunctions in their variability in interpretations.

    Research areas

  • Q-particle, ka, wh-indefinites, wh-questions, alternative questions, disjunctions

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