Processing Sentences in Japanese

Edson T. Miyamoto

in The Oxford Handbook of Japanese Linguistics

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780195307344
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Processing Sentences in Japanese

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  • Linguistics
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology


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This article reviews the research investigating how sentences are processed in Japanese, reporting a controversy involving head-final languages and summarizing related experimental results in Japanese. It also describes how clause boundaries are determined in Japanese and how readers recover from initial misanalyses. The processing of long-distance dependencies for fronted wh-phrases is then discussed. Furthermore, the work related to such dependencies in relative clauses, scrambling, and in-situ wh-phrases is addressed. The processing of filler-gap dependencies has been shown to underline a variety of phenomena across a number of different languages. The results indicate that the difficulty in processing simple sentences with scrambled order is relatively small and may not be detected in self-paced reading. It remains to be seen whether the competition model is able to cover constructions more complex than the single-clause structures usually examined.

Keywords: sentences; Japanese; head-final languages; clause boundaries; long-distance dependencies; wh-phrases; relative clauses; scrambling; filler-gap dependencies

Article.  13428 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Psycholinguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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