The UG Code of Hentai Kambun
Department of Linguistics
University of Washington
Friday, December 03, 2010
3:30 – 5:00 p.m.
Paccar Hall, Room 291
This talk presents an analysis of word order patterns in the 8th
century Japanese text Kojiki. The Kojiki was written in the style
known as hentai kambun, which I analyze as a coded system for
recording Japanese in a form which outwardly resembles Classical or Middle
Chinese. These texts contain numerous sentences whose word order appears
mysterious when viewed from either the perspective of either Japanese or
Chinese, and systematic analysis of the word order in hentai kambun texts
has been remained most illusive over the centuries. In this presentation, I
will propose a novel analysis, according to which the author of the
Kojiki made use of no more than two principles of Universal Grammar
in order to convert Old Japanese sentences into the coded form of the text. A broader
ramification of this proposal is that, if we accept the premise that a
speaker can consciously manipulate principles of UG, then the bizarre word
order patterns of hentai kambun texts provide strong support for the
existence of Universal Grammar.
Reception to follow in same room.
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