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Linguistic Inquiry

Fall 2010, Vol. 41, No. 4, Pages 663-680
(doi: 10.1162/LING_a_00016)
© 2010 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Psycholinguistic Evidence for the VP-Internal Subject Position in Japanese
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The question of whether the subject stays in its thematic position within the VP or moves to Spec,TP is difficult to answer with respect to free word order languages such as Japanese because the surface constituent orders in these languages do not necessarily provide sufficient information to determine syntactic positions. In this article, we present psycholinguistic evidence for the theoretical hypothesis that, in Japanese, the subject must move to Spec,TP in sentences with the subject-object-verb word order, but may stay within the VP in sentences with the object-subject-verb word order.