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A comparative study on Thematic Hierarchies between Korean, Japanese, and Chinese from the perspective of Generative grammar

  • Korean Language & Literature
  • 2007, (62), pp.53-72
  • Publisher : Korean Language & Literature
  • Research Area : Humanities > Korean Language and Literature

김의수 1

1한국외국어대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper has two aims; the first is to extract their own Thematic hierarchies from Japanese and Chinese with the methodology already applied to Korean. Generally speaking, Lexical Cases are closely related to Theta roles, unlike Structural Cases. So if you substitute Lexical Case markers with Structural Case markers, a certain word order restriction due to Thematic hierarchy, suddenly appears. Two different Thematic hierarchies resulting from this methodology are as follows; <Japanese Thematic hierarchy> Agent>Experiencer/Location/Source/Recipient>Theme>Goal <Chinese Thematic hierarchy> Agent>Experiencer/Goal/Recipient/Location/Source>Theme In terms of word order, Japanese is similar to Korean. Also interestingly, their Thematic hierarchies are very similar. This is also true between Chinese and English. Until now, only one Thematic hierarchy is believed to exist among all languages. However, the conclusion of this paper challenges this traditional idea; each language has their own Thematic hierarchies. The second aim of this paper is that Thematic hierarchy controls the so-called Subject-honorifics in Japanese. Previous studies on Korean in this subject matter have found this to be also true. This approach is also interesting in that most linguists believed that Spec-Head agreement must control Subject-honorific until recently. However, my research shows that the highest argument in terms of Thematic hierarchy should be the antecedent of the honorific A'-anaphora in Japanese as well as in Korean.

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