The Particle Mo in Japanese and its Roles in Numeral Indeterminate Phrases

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University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics
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Mohri, Fumio

The main purpose of this paper is to provide an appropriate explanation for the so-called numeral indeterminate (NI) constructions, in which mo is accompanied by an indeterminate pronoun+ Cl(assifier). The quirky character of this construction is that apparently mo is applied to the denotation of a numeral indeterminate nan-nin as a syntactic binder and at the same it invokes a scalar reading. The assumption that mo should be a syntactic binder can be corroborated from the fact that the NI construction is degraded without the particle mo. Also mo as a scalar particle attributes an implicit large reading. This large reading can also be observed in cases where the indeterminate is replaced by a specific numeral, e,g, yo-nin-mo ‘four-Cl-mo’. To the best of my knowledge, Kobuchi-Philip (2010) and Oda (2012) are the only works that deal with this construction. Especially Oda extensively discusses every possible means to explain this construction and works out a solution by assuming that the suffix mo functions multiply as an existential quantifier and a scalar particle. Through this paper, I will support her claim for its double functions, but I will clarify that the functions are both derived from a core semantic property of mo, namely, maximality. In other words, these functions work individually, but the component of maximality is placed in the center of the semantics of both usages.

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