Learning Resources written by Linguists

Please recommend me any learning resources that were written by linguists. I am looking for things similar to the “A Dictionary of Japanese Grammar” and “Japanese: The Spoken Language” series.

Most appreciated would be something on the formation of verbs in the Japanese language. Especially appreciated would be unconventional sources that do not describe “adjectives” in the language as adjectives, and perhaps even expand this atomic view of word and sentence formation to the language as a whole.

2 Likes

I should specify that when I say verb formation, I do not mean forms or other types of conjugation. I mean the addition of -ru, -su, -eru, etc etc to the root that turns said root into a verb.

1 Like

The thought of the Dictionary of Japanese Grammar and Japanese the Spoken Language occuring in the same sentence breaks my brain a little.

But have you tried other books written by the same authors? For example, Michio Tsutsui, who co-wrote the DoJG, also co-wrote Tobira.

Cure Dolly on YouTube likes to talk about verb conjugations as being auxiliary verbs.

3 Likes

They occur in the same sentence because they both clarify fundaments of the language that doesn’t work on a basis of “you want to say this in English, this is how you do it in Japanese”.

I am not looking for overlapping content.

I already got the Genki series, Tobira, and the general body of what people recommend for use.

I went through the publications of Michio Tsutsui, but as a rule, people specialize rather narrowly. That is to say, it wasn’t what I’m looking for.

I’m hoping that someone can recommend you some native resources aimed at school children in Japan because I think that’s the closest you’re going to get to what you want.

I would think that 99% of resources written in languages other than Japanese will teach in a style akin to what you’re already familiar with.

That way you can read those and cross reference with DJG if you need help.

I think I found part of what I needed.
If anyone comes across this thread with the same needs, check out:

  • Natsuko Tsujimura’s books broadly covering Japanese Linguistics: An Introduction to Japanese Linguistics (2013), The Handbook of Japanese Linguistics (1999)
  • Taro Kageyama and Hideki Kishimoto for Japanese Lexicon and Word Formation (2016)
  • Wesley M. Jacobsen and Yukinori Takubo for Japanese Semantics and Pragmatics (2020)

Added contribution from @s1212z:

I may suggest searching dissertations for this type of subject, sounds like a doctoral topic or something…a brief search yielded this 1964 gem on “An Examination of Japanese Verb Forms” (includes typewriter font and xerox artifact!).

Seems alot of roads start pointing toward classical Japanese which looks frightening, especially verbs. Tofugu had an article with an overview on classical verb with several references if this is what you want.

Added contribution from @MegaZeroX:

Its not written by a linguist, but Pomax’s Japanese Guide focuses a lot on how the grammar came to be when introducing verb conjugation, comparing to classical Japanese.

I’ll update this list with other finds as I go.

6 Likes

I’m not sure I understand what you mean, Japanese linguistic research describes adjectives as adjectives, too. What else would they be describing them as?

If I were to guess it’s that some say な-adjectives aren’t adjectives. The terms in Japanese are 形容詞 (literally “describing word”) for い-adjective, but 形容動詞 (literally “describing verb”) for な-adjective. Some resources just say “adjective” when they mean い-adjective, and refer to な-adjectives as some kind of noun.

With some exceptions (such as connecting to other nouns with a な rather than a の), they conjugate like nouns, but otherwise behave exactly like adjectives do in English, so I think it’s a little daft to call them nouns.

1 Like

Yeah, I’ve seen that argument before as well. The term itself isn’t always the most reliable thing to go off, and Japanese isn’t the only language where the grammatical term doesn’t necessarily match the way the word class behaves. They were often established when we had a different understanding of how grammar works.

Nishiyama (1999, p. 184), and quite a few researchers after that, uses the categorizations canonical adjectives (e.g., 高い) and nominal adjectives (e.g., 静か) and uses two pieces of morphological evidence why they form a natural class distinct from the class of nouns, namely the ability to be nominalized using the suffix –さ (高さ, 静かさ, but not *男さ) and the ability to combine with –そう (高そう, 静かそう, but not *男そう).

Nominal adjectives couldn’t be verbs (despite the Japanese word for it) either because verbs cannot combine with –さ.

Nishiyama, K. (1999). Adjectives and the copulas in Japanese. Journal of East Asian Linguistics, 8, 183–222.

3 Likes

I’m assuming you might be looking for heuristics methods since you mentioned learning resources and atomic view.

I may suggest searching dissertations for this type of subject, sounds like a doctoral topic or something…a brief search yielded this 1964 gem on “An Examination of Japanese Verb Forms” (includes typewriter font and xerox artifact!).

Seems alot of roads start pointing toward classical Japanese which looks frightening, especially verbs. Tofugu had an article with an overview on classical verb with several references if this is what you want.

Linguistics can be fun to read and interesting with an occasional ‘aha’ moment but I’ve never found a learning resource per se, at least for a language acquisition pursuit But if it’s academia for the sake of research and knowledge, I suppose it’s different type of learning.

2 Likes

静けさ. Interesting. In Dutch (or maybe just my teacher) い-adjectives are referred to as verbaal adjectief. Which seems to be opposite to what Japanese, though I suspect they are just stressing a different aspect. One functions like a verb itself, the other requires a verb in order to function.

2 Likes

Adjectival nouns or just nominals. It doesn’t really make sense to call them adjectives cause they don’t act that way.

How do they not, exactly?

Or perhaps, what do you feel is the way that adjectives act?

形容詞 (descriptive verbs) or adjectival verbs are real verbs with the omission of some verbal forms. They essentially form a relative clause with the noun that comes after it.

形容動詞 (descriptive nouns) or adjectival nouns are so called な-adjectives. It should be noted that adjectival verbs or い-adjectives as what people would assess as true adjectives. You will notice that some of these adjectival nouns can be connected with の rather than な, な being the before-noun form of なり. Try for example to substitute な with である.
After all, these descriptive nouns take normal copulas when written in past or negative forms.

1 Like

I suppose the more straight forward way of understanding for someone who comes from English is that despite “blue-collar” in “blue-collar job” being descriptive, it’s not an adjective.

Or better, “winter” from “winter clothes”.

1 Like

Ok, but you’ve essentially described them here in terms of grammar rather than with reference to parts of speech. Basically, you only covering why い-adjectives are different to な-adjectives, and not why な-adjectives are not adjectives.

If I tried to say that 五段 verbs aren’t verbs because they behave differently to 一段 verbs, you’d be looking at me going “… what?”. That’s how I’m feeling here.

Every dictionary I have within arms length says it is.

That’s essentially a noun modifying a noun. But “winter” happens to also be an adjective as well. And a verb. English isn’t very good at pidgeonholing words.

5 Likes

I’m just gonna leave this here…

https://www.imabi.net/adnominaladjectives.htm

1 Like

Somehow for me early on digging out such details facilitates the acquisition of language overall. It helps much more to see words as part of a system rather than just to memorize them as is.

It so happens that when studying Japanese I’m noticing some emerging patterns that make me think “there has to be a way to generalize this further” that ends up lending itself better to how for example native speakers would go about “verbifying” or “adjectifying” words.

That is form words not used commonly or not appearing in the dictionary but of which the meaning, even if the word is butchered, still makes good sense to native speakers as the construction is similar to other words of the same class.

The same should apply to Japanese, but listening native-speakers employ this process, I am having a hard time understanding it through tools given by conventional pedagogy, and yet it strikes me as an essential ability.

1 Like

That’s not how word classes are defined in linguistics. If words inflect and they belong to the same class, they inflect for the same categories (e.g., tense or number), but not all members of the class have to have the same inflectional forms. This definition of word classes applies crosslinguistically.

In order to belong to the same class, words have to behave in the same way or serve the same function syntactically, which both types of adjectives do in Japanese. They are a word that modifies a noun or noun phrase. They also behave identically in derivation processes.

Exceptions, by the way, do not exclude a certain word from belonging to the word class as long as it meets all other requirements and, importantly, cannot fall into another word class because it doesn’t share its properties. To use English as the most accessible example for everyone, there are adjectives that cannot be used predicatively for semantic reasons (e.g., former – we can say the former president but not the president is former), but they are still adjectives.

Apart from that, if adjectives like 静か were nouns, you wouldn’t be able to nominalize them using the nominalization suffix –さ as you can only nominalize something that isn’t already a noun, which is why 男 and –さ don’t go together.

In your example, blue-collar is an adjective that modifies the noun job. It cannot be anything else because English doesn’t have any other word class that can modify a noun in that syntactic position. As @Belthazar pointed out, English famously employs so-called zero derivation or null derivation to form new words, i.e. a word can change its class without any affixation (unlike, for instance, 静か and 静かさ), which is why the phrase blue collar can be used as an adjective.

You can easily test this by looking for environments in which only adjectives occur, e.g. a noun modifier in the superlative, and you will find sentences such as: Rizzo had been a police officer, arguably one of the most blue-collar occupations in the city. [1]

This is an example of a compound noun where two nouns combine to form a compound, which in turn is also a noun. I’m not quite sure what you were trying to illustrate with this example? In either case, all Germanic languages use the same method of compounding (Winterkleidung, winterkleren, vinterkläder etc.) and, coincidentally, Japanese does too, cf. 冬服.

4 Likes

Its not written by a linguist, but Pomax’s Japanese Guide focuses a lot on how the grammar came to be when introducing verb conjugation, comparing to classical Japanese.

1 Like