This paper investigates the Old Japanese (OJ) postposition -tu, a problematic morpheme with both genitive-like and numeral usages, and proposes a diachronic account of its distribution that eschews the traditional ‘locative-genitive’ analysis in favor of reconstructing pre-OJ *tu as a dual ‘allative / instrumental’ postposition. I show that both genitive and attributive uses of OJ -tu can be seen as developments out of a pre-OJ allative or directional sense, and show that reconstructing a pre-OJ allative can account for why OJ -tu is mostly found in locative expressions. I also propose that the use of OJ -tu in counting could reflect an original instrumental sense developing via a distributive, functions notably lacking among pre-OJ postpositions. Not only does this resolve syntactic problems in synchronic genitive analyses attempting to unify these two usages, it also explains why both bare numeral expressions and numerals suffixed with -tu are attested in Old Japanese. Reconstructing pre-OJ *tu as a dual ‘allative / instrumental’ reveals a striking match with the Middle Korean allative / instrumental particle -lwo, from which I reconstruct proto-Korean-Japanese *two via well-attested sound correspondences between Japanese and Korean. Unlike many of the synchronic analyses proposed thus far, this diachronic look at OJ -tu offers a unified analysis of its attestations that accounts for its locative distribution and even reveals a cognate with Korean. At a time when synchronic approaches predominate in our fields, this analysis helps highlight the value of diachronic approaches towards understanding distributions.
Ratte, Alexander T.
"Diachrony or Synchrony? Accounting for the Old Japanese Particle -tu,"
University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics: Vol. 20
, Article 30.
Available at: https://repository.upenn.edu/pwpl/vol20/iss1/30