Interpretation of Prenominal Modifiers:
an m-commanding approach to nibanme-no midori-no ball
In this presentation I will investigate the differences of ordinal numbers between Japanese and English for such phrases "nibanme-no midori-no ball" and "the second green ball", arguing that ordinal numbers in Japanese behave more like adjectives than those of English in the prenominal modifier sequences. Ordinal numbers in English requires hierarchical interpretations for the array of balls illustrated in (1), while those of Japanese does not necessarily require hierarchical interpretations, in fact, informants tend to manifest intersective interpretations for the same array.
Here, I define the hierarchical interpretation as organizing structures such that ordinal numbers are in a higher node than adjectives. On the other hand, the intersective interpretation is the one that allows ordinal numbers to be sisters of adjectives. These are represented in (2).
(2) a. Hierarchical interpretation
[the [N' 1
second [N' 2
green ball]]]]: (f) for (1)
b. Intersective interpretation
second green ball]]]: (b) for (1)
Based on the fact that thirty-nine informants of Japanese out of fifty preferred the latter interpretation, at the same time based on the fact that the hierarchical structure is preferable at S-Structure, (e.g., "one"-substitution for the prenominal modifier sequences like "the big red car" shows that there exists an N'-node at each sequence of prenominal modifiers), I argue this phenomenon is the evidence for the m-commanding at LF-Structure when they obtain the intersective interpretation out of the hierarchical structure.