1 Introduction

A number of languages of the world show a striking change in word order when what is modified is an indefinite pronoun: adjectives necessarily appear postnominally and cannot appear prenominally (see Emonds 1985; Abney 1987; Hulk & Verheugd 1992; Kishimoto 2000; Larson & Marušič 2004; Leu 2005; Cardinaletti & Giusti 2006; Roehrs 2008; Marušič & Žaucer 2009; Cinque 2010, among others). Examples (1a) and (1b) show that the English adjective interesting must precede the ordinary noun book. On the other hand, examples (1c) and (1d) show that the same adjective must follow the indefinite pronoun everything.

In this article, for convenience, I will call syntactic constructions of the type seen in (1d), where an adjective follows an indefinite pronoun, indefinite-pronoun structures.1

(1) a.   every interesting book
  b. *every book interesting
  c. *interesting everything
  d.   everything interesting

Adjectives also follow indefinite pronouns in French, Italian, Swiss German, Slovenian, and Chinese, as shown in (2) (the data are from Leu 2005 (French and Swiss German), Roehrs 2008 (Italian), Larson & Marušič 2004 (Slovenian), and Fen-fan Hsieh p.c. (Chinese)).

    1. (2)
    1. a.
    1. English
    2. something nice
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. French
    1. quelque
    2. some
    1. chose
    2. thing
    1. de
    2. DE
    1. beau
    2. nice
    1. ‘something nice’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. Italian
    1. qualcosa
    2. something
    1. di
    2. DI
    1. grande
    2. big
    1. ‘something big’
    1.  
    1. d.
    1. Swiss German
    1. öpis
    2. something
    1. schöns
    2. nice
    1. ‘something nice’
    1.  
    1. e.
    1. Slovenian
    1. nekaj
    2. something
    1. velikega
    2. big.GEN
    1. ‘something big’
    1.  
    1. f.
    1. Chinese
    1. shienme
    2. something
    1. da
    2. big
    1. de
    2. DE
    1. ‘something big’

In the literature, while indefinite-pronoun structures have often been studied in head-initial languages, they have not been described for Japanese, a head-final language with exclusively prenominal modifiers. Surprisingly, Japanese too exhibits the order in which a modifier follows an indeterminate phrase (the term I will use instead of indefinite pronoun).2 Examples (3a)–(7a) illustrate this with five different existential indeterminate phrases (existential quantifiers).3

    1. (3)
    1. ‘Someone’
    1.  
    1. a.
    1. Dareka
    2. someone
    1. himasoona
    2. free.looking
    1. hito-o
    2. LN-ACC
    1. yoboo.
    2. invite
    1. ‘Let’s invite someone who looks free.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Himasoona
    2. free.looking
    1. dareka-o
    2. someone-ACC
    1. yoboo.
    2. invite
    1. ‘Let’s invite someone who looks free.’
    1. (4)
    1. ‘Something’
    1.  
    1. a.
    1. Nanika
    2. something
    1. karai
    2. spicy
    1. no-o
    2. LN-ACC
    1. tabe-tai.
    2. eat-want
    1. ‘I want to eat something spicy.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Karai
    2. spicy
    1. nanika-o
    2. something-ACC
    1. tabe-tai.
    2. eat-want
    1. ‘I want to eat something spicy.’
    1. (5)
    1. ‘One (of them)’
    1.  
    1. a.
    1.     Doreka
    2.     either
    1. karaku-nai
    2. spicy-not
    1. no-o
    2. LN-ACC
    1. tabe-tai.
    2. eat-want
    1.       ‘I want to eat one (of them) that is not spicy.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. ??Karai
    2.     spicy
    1. doreka-o
    2. either-ACC
    1. tabe-tai.
    2. eat-want
    1.       ‘I want to eat one (of them) that is spicy.’
    1. (6)
    1. ‘Somewhere’
    1.  
    1. a.
    1. Dokoka
    2. someplace
    1. tooi
    2. far.away
    1. tokoro-e
    2. LN-to
    1. iki-tai.
    2. go-want
    1. ‘I want to go somewhere far away.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Tooi
    2. far.away
    1. dokoka-e
    2. someplace-to
    1. iki-tai.
    2. go-want
    1. ‘I want to go somewhere far away.’
    1. (7)
    1. ‘Sometime’
    1.  
    1. a.
    1. Ituka
    2. sometime
    1. himana
    2. free
    1. toki-ni
    2. LN-at
    1. aimasyoo.
    2. meet
    1. ‘Let’s meet sometime when you are free.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Himana
    2. free
    1. ituka-ni
    2. sometime-at
    1. aimasyoo.
    2. meet
    1. ‘Let’s meet sometime when you are free.’

Note, as mentioned above, that postnominal modification is disallowed with ordinary noun phrases in Japanese:

    1. (8)
    1. a.
    1. *Kuruma
    2.   car
    1. akai-o
    2. red-ACC
    1. katta.
    2. bought
    1.    (Intended: ‘I bought a red car.’)                                           (postnominal)
    1.  
    1. b.
    1.   Akai
    2.   red
    1. kuruma-o
    2. car-ACC
    1. katta.
    2. bought
    1.    ‘I bought a red car.’                                                                (prenominal)

Likewise, replacing the indeterminate phrases in (3a)–(7a) with ordinary noun phrases, as in (9), again results in ungrammaticality. The exceptional “postnominal” word order is only allowed with indeterminate phrases.

    1. (9)
    1. a.
    1.   Nanika
    2.   something
    1. karai
    2. spicy
    1. no-o
    2. LN-ACC
    1. tabe-tai.
    2. eat-want
    1.    ‘I want to eat something spicy.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. *Tabemono/raamen
    2.   food/ramen
    1. karai
    2. spicy
    1. no-o
    2. LN-ACC
    1. tabe-tai.
    2. eat-want
    1.    (Intended: ‘I want to eat spicy food/ramen.’)

Two main questions about indefinite-pronoun structures that need to be addressed are:

(10) a. Why do modifiers appear to the right of indefinite pronouns/indeterminate phrases, while they are prenominal with ordinary nouns?
  b. What is the structure of the indefinite-pronoun structures?

It is important to observe that all the data above on indefinite-pronoun structures in Japanese involve a light noun at the right periphery—no ‘thing’, hito ‘person’, tokoro ‘place’, toki ‘time’, etc.—which is obligatory. Thus, the key to understanding the word-order permutation is the syntax of light nouns. As I will lay out in the next section, some recent studies on indefinite-pronoun structures have tried to show that the apparently postnominal modifier is underlyingly a prenominal modifier of an invisible nominal (see Leu 2005; Roehrs 2008). I will argue that in Japanese, too, a modifier that follows an indeterminate phrase is actually a prenominal modifier of the following light noun.

(11) A modifier that follows an indeterminate phrase in indefinite-pronoun structures in Japanese does not modify it but modifies prenominally the light noun that appears at the end of the entire noun phrase.

In this sense, Japanese provides visible evidence for a structure invisible in other languages, and our investigation reveals the existence of a universal light-noun structure in indefinite-pronoun structures.

Furthermore, I will show that indeterminate phrases in Japanese, when they occur in certain structures (including indefinite-pronoun structures), are not “nouns” syntactically. I will demonstrate that Japanese-type and English/French-type indefinite-pronoun structures have the same underlying structure and that syntactic differences follow from a difference in the composition of so-called indefinite pronouns: an indeterminate system versus a light-noun system.

2 Overview of previous approaches

Let us briefly review previous analyses proposed in the literature. Abney (1987) proposed that the postnominal position of the adjective in English indefinite-pronoun structures is derived from N raising to D:

    1. (12)
    1. Abney (1987)

According to him, indefinite pronouns have some special property that obligatorily drives this head raising of an indefinite pronoun. On the other hand, ordinary nouns cannot raise to D. On the surface, the approach seems attractive, given that most (if not all) indefinite pronouns in English morphologically consist of a determiner every/some/any and a general noun one/body/thing/place.

However, Kishimoto (2000) argues against the raising-to-D analysis, because English does not have N-to-D raising, unlike Romance languages (see Longobardi 1994; Cinque 1995). Instead, Kishimoto (2000) proposes that what he calls a light noun raises only up to the Num head, passing an adjective:

    1. (13)
    1. Kishimoto (2000)

These analyses were criticized by Leu (2005), however, who argues that they do not explain (i) the morphology -s exhibited by modifiers of (neuter) bare nouns in Swiss German and (ii) the appearance of de in French. The postnominal adjective in indefinite-pronoun structures in Swiss German in (14a)–(14c), just like a standard prenominal adjective, carries the inflection -s, but it is missing on the predicative adjective in (14d). This indicates that the apparent postnominal adjective in in (14a)–(14c) is indeed a prenominal attributive adjective rather than a predicative adjective. Given the data above, Leu (2005) argues that there must be something invisible that the adjective modifies prenominally.

    1. (14)
    1. Swiss German (Leu 2005)
    1.  
    1. a.
    1. öper
    2. someone
    1. luschtig-s
    2. funny-S
    1. ‘someone funny’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. öpis
    2. something
    1. luschtig-s
    2. funny-S
    1. ‘something funny’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. nöimä
    2. somewhere
    1. luschtig-s
    2. funny-S
    1. ‘somewhere funny’
    1.  
    1. d.
    1. Das
    2. this
    1. isch
    2. is
    1. luschtig (*-s).
    2. funny-S
    1. ‘This is funny.’

Similarly, in French, whereas adjectives can be postnominal or prenominal for ordinary nouns, as shown in (15a) and (15b), in indefinite-pronoun structures they must follow the indefinite pronoun, as shown in (15a). Leu (2005) claims that the appearance of de in the indefinite-pronoun structure in (15c) constitutes evidence for an invisible nominal, because de introduces nominal projections, as shown in (15d).

    1. (15)
    1. French (Leu 2005)
    1.  
    1. a.
    1. un
    2. a
    1. (*de)
    2.     DE
    1. beau
    2. beautiful
    1. film
    2. film
    1. ‘a beautiful movie’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. un
    2. a
    1. film
    2. film
    1. (*de)
    2.     DE
    1. magnifique
    2. magnificent
    1. ‘a magnificent movie’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. quelque
    2. some
    1. chose
    2. thing
    1. de
    2. DE
    1. beau
    2. nice
    1. ‘something nice’
    1.  
    1. d.
    1. trois
    2. three
    1. kilos
    2. kilos
    1. de
    2. DE
    1. bois
    2. wood
    1. ‘three kilos of wood’

Thus, he proposes a binominal structure (16) for English and French, although its details are not very clear from his representation (see also Marušič & Žaucer 2009 for a binominal structure in Slovenian indefinite-pronoun structures).

    1. (16)
    1. Leu (2005)

Given that Kishimoto’s analysis does posit an underlying prenominal structure, Leu’s objection to it is not completely convincing. Furthermore, he leaves unanswered (see Leu 2005: 154) why the empty category ec cannot be lexically realized.

Larson & Marušič (2004) criticize the raising analyses of English indefinite-pronoun structures, arguing that the adjectives that appear with indefinite pronouns in English show all the hallmarks of postnominal adjectives. Their counterarguments to a raising analysis include: the impossibility of stacking of adjectives (17), differences in measure-adjective inflections (18), the ungrammaticality of exclusively prenominal adjectives (19), and semantic differences.

(17) a.   the explored navigable rivers
  b. *everything large heavy

(18) a.   a 23-inch-long rope
  b.   anything 23 inches long

(19) a.   some live thing
  b. *something live

They suggest two possible analyses of indefinite-pronoun structures in English: one is that all adjectives are base generated postnominally, as in (20a) (with prenominal adjectives derived through AP raising), and the other is that both adjective positions are basic, as in (20b). Both analyses share the idea that adjectives in indefinite-pronoun structures are postnominal from the beginning.

(20) Larson & Marušič (2004)
  a. [DP D [NP N AP ]]
  b. [DP D (*AP) [N ∅] (AP)]

Their arguments against the prenominal analysis of indefinite-pronoun structures, however, seem to apply only to English, because Leu (2005) shows that there is much evidence for the prenominal status of adjectives in indefinite-pronoun structures in other languages. Furthermore, Roehrs (2008) presents evidence that adjectives in German indefinite-pronoun structures are prenominal.

Take adjective inflections. Notice that the adjective in the indefinite-pronoun structure in example (21d) behaves like the prenominal adjective in example (21a). Both of the adjectives in (21a) and (21d) require the inflection -es, while the postnominal adjective and the predicative adjective in examples (21b) and (21c) prohibit it.

    1. (21)
    1. German (Roehrs 2008: 6)
    1.  
    1. a.
    1. ein
    2. an
    1. wichtig*(es)
    2. importantSTRONG
    1. Beweisstük
    2. exhibit
    1. ‘an important exhibit’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. das
    2. the
    1. Beweisstück
    2. exhibit
    1. wichtig(*es)
    2. important
    1. für
    2. for
    1. die
    2. the
    1. Verurteilung
    2. sentencing
    1. ‘the exhibit important for the sentencing’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. Das
    2. the
    1. Beweisstück
    2. exhibit
    1. ist
    2. is
    1. wichtig(*es)
    2. important
    1. für
    2. for
    1. die
    2. the
    1. Verurteilung.
    2. sentencing
    1. ‘The exhibit is important for the sentencing.’
    1.  
    1. d.
    1. etwas
    2. something
    1. Wichtig*(es)
    2. importantSTRONG
    1. ‘something important’

Thus, Roehrs (2008) proposes a binominal analysis of indefinite-pronoun structures, as illustrated in (22) with the French example from (15c). All the prenominal properties discussed above reduce to the posited NP structure, independent of the indefinite pronoun. Roehrs assumes that the light noun chose is located at the IPR (=“Indefinite Pronoun Restrictor”) head position and de at the Mod (=“Modifier”) head position.

    1. (22)
    1. Roehrs (2008)

Furthermore, he argues that the peculiarities of English indefinite-pronoun structures seen in (17)–(19) are nicely captured by allowing AP to replace the AgrP layer in (22), which explains the postnominal behaviors of adjectives.4 The success of his proposal depends on the extent to which the posited various functional heads are justified and on the extent to which the structure in (22) does not overgenerate ill-formed noun phrases generally.

In the sections that follow, I argue that Japanese indefinite-pronoun structures have a light-noun structure (nP) and a modifier is not a postnominal modifier of an indeterminate phrase (QP) but rather a prenominal modifier of a light noun. Importantly, the rightmost nominal category is silent in English/French, but it is obligatorily overt in Japanese (and optionally so in Danish and German). Thus, Japanese provides visible evidence for the invisible lower nominal element that has been proposed by Leu (2005) and Roehrs (2008). As I will demonstrate, the apparent differences between Japanese and other languages stem from distinct mechanisms that compose so-called indefinite pronouns. The present detailed study contributes to understanding the principles and parameters involved in indefinite-pronoun structures, because there has not been extensive work on these phenomena in head-final languages.

3 Proposal: Something (in)visible

In this section, I will argue that indefinite-pronoun structures in Japanese, like those in English/French, have a light-noun structure, but while the light noun appears together with a determiner-like element some/quelque in the French/English construction, the light noun and the indefinite pronoun are separated by a modifier in Japanese.

This necessitates articulation of the internal structure of “indefinite pronouns” in Japanese. Elaborating on the idea that so-called indefinite pronouns in Japanese are decomposed into indeterminates and particles (see Kuroda 1965), it will be shown that they are distinct from light nouns and that both are present in the syntax of indefinite-pronoun structures.

3.1 QP and light nouns

I propose that there is a functional projection n—light noun—within a noun-phrase structure (see Marantz 1997; Borer 2005a; b; 2013; 2014; Hiraiwa 2012; 2016; Belder & van Craenenbroeck 2015). Assuming that a root category is not a noun before it is merged with n, it is reasonable to think that restrictive modifiers are located in the nP domain.

    1. (23)
    1. an adorable dog

The tree in (24) gives the underlying structure of the indefinite-pronoun structures in (3a)–(7a). I propose that an indeterminate phrase QP is merged in the specifier of some functional phrase XP.5

    1. (24)
    1. ‘something spicy’ in Japanese

Due to the lack of a root category in the complement of n, n is stranded. Assuming that the category-setting functional categories n and v are affixal and hence cannot be stranded (cf. Lasnik 1981; 1995; Abels 2001, among others), Japanese saves the structure by inserting a semantically appropriate light noun—no, hito, etc.—much like do support in English saves a stranded affix on T. The n head in Japanese indefinite-pronoun structures is always occupied by an overt element, as shown in (25a)–(25b), because the language does not have a null light noun or pro-form. This is evidenced by example (26b) (see Hiraiwa 2016). If there were a null light noun or pro-form, (26b) should be as grammatical as (26c).

    1. (25)
    1. a.
    1. *Nanika
    2.   something
    1. karai
    2. spicy
    1. ∅-o
    2. ∅-ACC
    1. tabe-tai.
    2. eat-want
    1.    ‘I want to eat something spicy.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1.   Nanika
    2.   something
    1. karai
    2. spicy
    1. no-o
    2. LN-ACC
    1. tabe-tai.
    2. eat-want
    1.    ‘I want to eat something spicy.’
    1. (26)
    1. a.
    1.   akai
    2.   red
    1. kuruma
    2. car
    1.    ‘a red car’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. *akai
    2.   red
    1. (car)
    1.    ‘a red car’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1.   akai
    2.   red
    1. no
    2. LN
    1.    ‘a red one’

If a root category occupies the complement position of n (e.g. √DOG in (23)), then, nP becomes “NP” (e.g. dog) in a traditional sense. In this case, n is not stranded, and it is morphologically realized as ∅. As the examples in (27) show, not only light nouns but also ordinary nouns can appear after the adjectives in indefinite-pronoun structures.

    1. (27)
    1. a.
    1. Dareka
    2. someone
    1. himana
    2. free
    1. hito/gakusei-o
    2. LN/student
    1. sagasoo.
    2. look.for
    1. ‘I will look for a person/student who is free.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Nanika
    2. something
    1. karai
    2. spicy
    1. mono/ryoori-ga
    2. LN/dish-NOM
    1. tabe-tai.
    2. eat-want
    1. ‘I want to eat a spicy thing/dish.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. Doreka
    2. something
    1. karai
    2. spicy
    1. mono/ryoori-ga
    2. LN/dish-NOM
    1. tabe-tai.
    2. eat-want
    1. ‘I want to eat whichever spicy thing/dish.’
    1.  
    1. d.
    1. Dokoka
    2. someplace
    1. tooi
    2. far.away
    1. tokoro/mati-e
    2. LN/town-to
    1. iki-tai.
    2. go-want
    1. ‘I want to go to a place/town far away.’
    1.  
    1. e.
    1. Ituka
    2. sometime
    1. himana
    2. free
    1. toki/hi-ni
    2. LN/day-on
    1. aimasyoo.
    2. meet
    1. ‘Let’s meet in your free time/on a day when you are free.’

Example (27b) with the ordinary noun is structurally represented as in (28).

    1. (28)
    1. The structure of (27b)

Thus, the apparently postnominal modifier is actually a prenominal modifier of a light n in (24) and of an ordinary NP in (28).6

Two notes are in order here. First, light nouns are semantically light and often bound nouns in that they require a modifier (Kishimoto 2000; Hiraiwa 2012). Thus, they cannot be used on their own:

    1. (29)
    1. Nanika
    2. something
    1. *(karai)
    2.     spicy
    1. no/mono-ga
    2. LN-NOM
    1. tabe-tai.
    2. eat-want
    1. ‘I want to eat something spicy.’

In contrast, ordinary nouns do not require a modifier, hence example (30) is grammatical with or without a modifier.7

    1. (30)
    1. Nanika
    2. something
    1. (karai)
    2.   spicy
    1. ryoori-ga
    2. dish-NOM
    1. tabe-tai.
    2. eat-want
    1. ‘I want to eat a spicy dish.’

Second, it is interesting that Danish shows a parallel pattern with Japanese, as seen in (31): Roehrs (2008) observes that in Danish indefinite-pronoun structures, a noun phrase can optionally follow the adjective. Similarly, German allows an overt lower nominal element to surface if the adjective is weak, as shown in (32).

    1. (31)
    1. Danish (Roehrs 2008)
    1.  
    1. a.
    1. noget
    2. something
    1. stort
    2. big
    1. ‘something big’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. noget
    2. something
    1. stort
    2. big
    1. hus
    2. house
    1. ‘some big house’
    1. (32)
    1. German (Roehrs 2008)
    1.  
    1. a.
    1. ?alles
    2.   every(thing)
    1. interessante
    2. interesting
    1. Zeug
    2. stuff
    1.    ‘every interesting stuff’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1.   jeder
    2.   every(one)
    1. anwesende
    2. present
    1. Mann
    2. man
    1.    ‘every present man’

It follows from the structures in (24) and (28) that so-called existential indefinite pronouns in Japanese are not built on light nouns. In fact, (33) shows how existential quantifiers in English and Japanese are composed: in English they contain the determiner some and what Kishimoto (2000) calls a light noun (or what Leu 2005 calls a restrictor), one/body/thing/place/time, while those in Japanese have nothing to do with light nouns but rather are built with the quantificational particle ka and an indeterminate (or informally, a wh-word), dare/nani/dore/doko/itu, as shown in (34). This is known as an indeterminate system (Kuroda 1965; Haspelmath 1997).8 The difference between English and Japanese is stated in (35).

    1. (33)
    1. Existential indefinite pronouns in English and Japanese
    1. (34)
    1. The indeterminate system in Japanese
(35) Indefinite pronouns in English are based on light nouns, whereas those in Japanese are based on indeterminates.

Now, as we have seen in the examples in (27), light nouns are exactly what we find at the right periphery of indefinite-pronoun structures in Japanese, and they have nothing morphologically in common with the Japanese indefinite pronouns in (33), but they do resemble the light nouns found in the English indefinite pronouns:

    1. (36)
    1. Light nouns in English and Japanese (Hiraiwa 2012; 2016)

Thus, Japanese indefinite-pronoun structures provide visible evidence for the existence of a lower nominal element that an apparently postnominal adjective modifies prenominally, as Leu (2005) and Roehrs (2008) proposed.

3.2 Evidence for prenominal adjectives

If the proposed analysis is correct, Japanese provides a direct argument for the presence of a lower nominal element in indefinite-pronoun structures. It follows that a modifier that appears to the right of an indeterminate phrase is in fact a prenominal modifier of this overt light-noun element.

A couple of pieces of evidence provide support for this conclusion. First of all, as I have just shown, the very existence of the overt light noun provides the strongest evidence that the modifier in question is syntactically prenominal to it.

Second, there is a class of adjectives/predicates that can only be used with first-person subjects in the present tense (see Kuroda 1973; Nitta 1991; Tenny 2006; Nishigauchi 2014). The adjectival predicate -tai in example (37a) shows this person restriction, and hence the sentence is ungrammatical with second- and third-person subjects. This restriction is lifted, however, when -tai is used attributively, as shown in the relative-clause example in (37b).

    1. (37)
    1. a.
    1. {Watasi-wa/*Kimi-wa/*Ken-wa}
    2. 1SG-TOP/2SG-TOP/Ken-TOP
    1. biiru-ga
    2. beer-NOM
    1. nomi-tai.
    2. drink-want
    1. ‘I/*you/*Ken want(s) to drink beer.’                                                                                             (predicative)
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. [[{Kimi-ga/Ken-ga}
    2.       2SG-NOM/Ken-NOM
    1. nomi-tai]
    2. drink-want
    1. biiru]-o
    2. beer-ACC
    1. mottekite.
    2. bring.come
    1. ‘Bring the beer that you/Ken want(s) to drink.’                                                                                (attributive)

As expected, modifiers in indefinite-pronoun structures are immune to this person restriction, as illustrated in (38). Hence they are syntactically prenominal modifiers.

    1. (38)
    1. [Nanika
    2.   something
    1. {kimi-ga/Ken-ga}
    2.   2SG-NOM/Ken-NOM
    1. nomi-tai
    2. drink-want
    1. no]-o
    2. LN-ACC
    1. mottekite.
    2. bring.come
    1. ‘Bring something you/Ken want(s) to drink.’

Finally, in indefinite-pronoun structures in Japanese, adjectives always appear in an attributive/adnominal form. As example (39a) shows, the conclusive form da is required when the adjective is used predicatively (see Yamakido 2005). This contrasts with the attributive form na when the adjective is used attributively, as shown in (39b). Given this contrast, example (39c) shows that the adjective in indefinite-pronoun structures is an attributive prenominal modifier of the following light noun.

    1. (39)
    1. a.
    1. Ano
    2. that
    1. hako-wa
    2. box-TOP
    1. tokubetu-{da/*na}.
    2. special-END/-ADN
    1. ‘That box is special.’                                                                                                                      (predicative)
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. tokubetu-{na/*da}
    2. special-ADN/-END
    1. hako
    2. box
    1. ‘a special box’                                                                                                                                   (attributive)
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. nanika
    2. something
    1. tokubetu-{na/*-da}
    2. special-ADN/-END
    1. no
    2. LN
    1. ‘something special’

All of these pieces of evidence point to the conclusion that modifiers in indefinite-pronoun structures in Japanese are prenominal modifiers of the light noun n.

3.3 Constituency

I have argued that an indeterminate phrase in a Japanese indefinite-pronoun structure is merged in the specifier of XP (see (24)).

There are at least three constituency test frames in Japanese: a pseudocleft frame, a genitive-case-marking frame, and a postposition frame. Let us examine the results of each test below.

Cleft constructions in Japanese allow for multiple foci, but crucially, pseudocleft constructions do not (see (40)). Thus, any phrase that appears in the focus position in pseudocleft constructions must form a syntactic constituent (see Hiraiwa & Ishihara 2012).

    1. (40)
    1. a.
    1.   Boku-ga
    2.   1SG-NOM
    1. eiej
    2.  
    1. tabeta
    2. ate
    1. no-wa
    2. LN-TOP
    1. sushi-oi
    2. sushi-ACC
    1. Ginza-dej
    2. Ginza-in
    1. datta.
    2. COP
    1.    ‘(Lit.) It was sushi, in Ginza, that I ate.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. *Boku-ga
    2.   1SG-NOM
    1. eiej
    2.  
    1. tabeta
    2. ate
    1. mono-wa
    2. LN-TOP
    1. sushii
    2. sushi
    1. Ginzaj
    2. Ginza
    1. datta.
    2. COP
    1.    ‘(Lit.) What I ate was sushi, at Ginza.’

Now, the grammaticality of (41) shows that the QP and the rest of the structure form a single constituent.

    1. (41)
    1. Boku-ga
    2. 1SG-NOM
    1. tabeta
    2. ate
    1. mono-wa
    2. LN-TOP
    1. [nanika
    2.   something
    1. karai
    2. spicy
    1. no/mono]
    2. LN
    1. datta.
    2. COP
    1. ‘What I ate was something spicy.’

Similarly, the entire indefinite-pronoun structure can be marked with the genitive case marker no, as shown in (42). This indicates that it forms a single constituent.

    1. (42)
    1. [[Nanika
    2.     something
    1. karai
    2. spicy
    1. mono]-no
    2. LN-GEN
    1. nioi]-ga
    2. smell-NOM
    1. suru.
    2. do
    1. ‘It smells like something spicy.’

Finally, only a single constituent can appear as the complement of P in Japanese.

    1. (43)
    1. a.
    1. [[Nanika
    2.     something
    1. karai
    2. spicy
    1. mono]-de
    2. LN-with
    1. niku-o
    2. meat-ACC
    1. itameta.
    2. stir.fried
    1. ‘I stir-fried beef with something spicy.’

To conclude, our evidence indicates that indefinite-pronoun structures in Japanese have a light-noun structure and the light noun n and the indefinite pronoun (QP) are separated by a modifier, which directly modifies the former.

4 Pronouns and linkers

Now important questions to ask are (i) why the postadjectival light noun n is not realized in French and Italian, while it is obligatorily overt in Japanese, and (ii) what the nature of the element de in French (and similarly di in Italian) is, while a corresponding element is absent in Japanese. These are the differences that I will address in the final section of this article. They reduce to a difference in how indefinite pronouns are composed.

4.1 n movement in languages without an indeterminate system

Crucially, indefinite pronouns in French and Italian are not based on an indeterminate system (cf. (33) and (36)). That is, in languages without an indeterminate system like Japanese’s, indefinite pronouns are built from a determiner and a light noun (Kishimoto 2000; Leu 2005). For example, the light nouns thing in English and chose in French appear as part of the indefinite pronouns something and quelque chose. Assuming that the basic structure proposed in the preceding section for Japanese indefinite-pronoun structures is universal, it follows that a light noun itself undergoes movement leftward in indefinite-pronoun structures in English and French, leaving the original copy unpronounced for standard reasons. The derivation of the French example (2b) is represented in (44) (I will come back to the nature of X shortly, in the next subsection).

    1. (44)
    1. French

The different types of indefinite-pronoun structures reduce to what comes in the specifier of XP. As I have proposed, in Japanese-type indefinite-pronoun structures, an indeterminate phrase QP appears there. Recall that so-called indefinite pronouns in Japanese are based on an indeterminate system. Thus, an indeterminate phrase consists of an indeterminate and a quantificational particle, independent of a light noun. In contrast, in French-type indefinite-pronoun structures, an indefinite pronoun consists of a light noun and a determiner D. Assuming a theory of head movement like that of Matushansky (2006), I propose that in languages without an indeterminate system, the light noun n moves to the specifier of XP and forms an indefinite pronoun with D.910

To summarize, indefinite-pronoun structures come at least in two kinds.

(45) Two types of indefinite-pronoun structures
  a. An indefinite pronoun is externally merged in the specifier of XP as QP in languages whose indefinite pronouns are based on indeterminate pronouns (Japanese).
  b. A light noun n is internally merged in the specifier of XP in languages whose indefinite pronouns are based on light nouns (English/French).

(46) Japanese type English/French type
  a. b.

4.2 X as linker

Leu (2005) characterizes de in French as a partitive, but Roehrs (2008) observes that this is not quite right: in English and other languages, partitives are overt but never appear in indefinite-pronoun structures.

(47) a. three kilos of wood
  b. something (*of) new

In light of the analysis I have proposed in this article, the most natural position for de (and di in Italian) is X. I suggest that this head X is a linker and is required by the light noun that is moved to its specifier (Baker & Collins 2006; Larson & Yamakido 2008; Larson 2009; Hiraiwa 2012).

This immediately raises a question: why doesn’t a linker overtly appear in Japanese indefinite-pronoun structures?

    1. (48)
    1. Japanese

The most important idea shared by the literature on linkers is that a linker is Case-related (see Baker & Collins 2006; Larson & Yamakido 2008; Larson 2009). From this viewpoint, it follows that a linker is missing in (48) because the indeterminate phrase in Japanese in indefinite-pronoun structures is not a “noun” but a QP, hence does not require case marking (see Hirose & Suzuki 2009 and Hiraiwa 2015; 2017). This is indeed what we are assuming in (34).

(49) QP is not a nominal category.
  [QP √INDETERMINATE [Q ]]

If (49) is correct, indeterminate phrases, being nonnominal, are expected to appear bare, without case marking. This prediction is confirmed, as shown by the examples in (50) (Hasegawa 1991; Hiraiwa 2015).11

    1. (50)
    1. a.
    1. Dareka(-ga)
    2. someone-NOM
    1. kita.
    2. came
    1. ‘Someone came.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Ken-ga
    2. Ken-TOP
    1. nanika(-o)
    2. something-ACC
    1. tabeta.
    2. ate
    1. ‘Ken ate something.’

Importantly, the absence of case marking on indeterminate phrases is never due to case drop. Case drop in Japanese is colloquial and is a main-clause phenomenon, hence it is excluded in embedded clauses like the one in (51a). By contrast, bare indeterminate phrases are perfectly fine in embedded clauses, as shown in (51b).

    1. (51)
    1. a.
    1. *[Ken-∅
    2.     Ken
    1. kita
    2. came
    1. koto]-wa
    2. C-TOP
    1. himitu
    2. secret
    1. deatta.
    2. COP
    1.    ‘It was a secret that Ken came.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. [Dareka-∅
    2.   someone
    1. kita
    2. came
    1. koto]-wa
    2. C-TOP
    1. himitu
    2. secret
    1. deatta.
    2. COP
    1. ‘It was a secret that someone came.’

Furthermore, indeterminate phrases appear following case-marked argument DPs:

    1. (52)
    1. a.
    1. Gausei-ga
    2. student-NOM
    1. dareka
    2. someone
    1. kita.
    2. came
    1. ‘A student came.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Ken-ga
    2. Ken-TOP
    1. kudamono-o
    2. fruit-ACC
    1. nanika
    2. something
    1. tabeta.
    2. ate
    1. ‘Ken ate some fruits.’

In fact, these indeterminate phrases behave similarly to caseless numerals and quantifiers.

    1. (53)
    1. a.
    1. Gausei-ga
    2. student-NOM
    1. huta-ri/minna
    2. two-CL/all
    1. kita.
    2. came
    1. ‘Two students/all the students came.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Ken-ga
    2. Ken-TOP
    1. kudamono-o
    2. fruit-ACC
    1. huta-tu/minna
    2. two-CL/all
    1. tabeta.
    2. ate
    1. ‘Ken ate two fruits/all the fruits.’

Given this, the absence of case marking on indeterminate phrases in indefinite-pronoun structures supports the conclusion. The ungrammaticality of (54c) and (54d) follows because the indeterminate phrase is a nonnominal QP and cannot be case marked.12

    1. (54)
    1. a.
    1. Boku-wa
    2. 1SG-TOP
    1. nanika
    2. something
    1. karai
    2. spicy
    1. no/mono-o
    2. LN-ACC
    1. tabe-tai.
    2. eat-want
    1. ‘I want to eat something spicy.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Boku-wa
    2. 1SG-TOP
    1. karai
    2. spicy
    1. no/mono-o
    2. LN-ACC
    1. nanika
    2. something
    1. tabe-tai.
    2. eat-want
    1. ‘I want to eat something spicy.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. *Boku-wa nanika-o karai no/mono tabe-tai.
    1.  
    1. d.
    1. *Boku-wa karai no/mono nanika-o tabe-tai.

In conclusion, we have firm evidence that QP is not a nominal category, and this explains why a linker does not appear in indefinite-pronoun structures in Japanese. As we have seen in (50), however, existential indeterminate phrases such as dareka ‘someone’ and nanika ‘something’ are structurally ambiguous between DP and QP. Thus, the remaining question to answer is why a full-fledged DP cannot be merged in the specifier of LkP. The answer is straightforward. If it were a DP, its case would be left unvalued because the entire indefinite-pronoun structure (=DP) would be closer to a higher probe and would receive case valuation instead. In the next, final subsection, I will show that this line of reasoning is indeed correct.

4.3 Size matters: Varieties of indeterminate phrases

So far, we have only looked at existential indeterminate phrases (e.g. dare-ka ‘someone’, nani-ka ‘something’, etc.). But they are not the only kind of indeterminate phrases that can occur in indefinite-pronoun structures. In Japanese, there are two other kinds, NPIs and free-choice items, illustrated in (55) and (56). NPIs in Japanese are formed by combining an indeterminate with the particle -mo, instead of -ka, while free-choice items take the particle -demo.13

    1. (55)
    1. a.
    1. Daremo
    2. anyone
    1. himasoona
    2. free.looking
    1. hito-o
    2. LN-ACC
    1. yobanakatta.
    2. invited.NEG
    1. ‘I did not invite anyone who looked free.’                                                                                           (NPI)
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Nanimo
    2. anything
    1. karai
    2. spicy
    1. no-o
    2. LN-ACC
    1. tabenakatta.
    2. ate.NEG
    1. ‘I did not eat anything spicy.’                                                                                                                 (NPI)
    1. (56)
    1. a.
    1. Daredemo
    2. anyone
    1. himasoona
    2. free.looking
    1. hito-o
    2. LN-ACC
    1. yoboo.
    2. invite
    1. ‘Let’s invite anyone who looks free.’                                 (free choice)
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Nandemo
    2. anything
    1. karai
    2. spicy
    1. no-o
    2. LN-ACC
    1. tabe-tai.
    2. eat-want
    1. ‘I want to eat anything spicy.’                                         (free choice)

Not all indeterminate phrases are compatible with indefinite-pronoun structures, however. Universal quantifiers and wh-words are excluded, even though they are also indeterminate-based.14

    1. (57)
    1. a.
    1. *Daremo
    2.   everyone
    1. himasoona
    2. free.looking
    1. hito-o
    2. LN-ACC
    1. yonda.
    2. invited
    1.    ‘I invited everyone who looked free.’                                                           (universal quantifier)
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. *Dare
    2.   who
    1. himasoona
    2. free.looking
    1. hito-o
    2. LN-ACC
    1. yonda
    2. invited
    1. no?
    2. Q
    1.    ‘(Lit.) Who free did you invite?’                                                                     (wh-word)
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. *Nani
    2.   what
    1. karai
    2. spicy
    1. no-o
    2. LN-ACC
    1. tabe-tai
    2. eat-want
    1. no?
    2. Q
    1.    ‘(Lit.) What spicy do you want to eat?’                           (wh-word)

Significantly, there are two fundamental differences between those indeterminate phrases that can appear in indefinite-pronoun structures and those that cannot.

First, the first group of indeterminate phrases resist prenominal modification: compare (58)–(60) to (61).15

    1. (58)
    1. a.
    1. *Boku-wa
    2. 1SG-TOP
    1. himasoona
    2. free.looking
    1. dareka
    2. someone
    1. yonda.
    2. invited.NEG
    1. ‘I invited someone who looked free.’                                                                                             (existential)
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. *Boku-wa
    2. 1SG-TOP
    1. karai
    2. spicy
    1. nanika
    2. something
    1. tabeta.
    2. ate
    1. ‘I ate something spicy.’                                                                                                                     (existential)
    1. (59)
    1. a.
    1. *Himasoona
    2. free.looking
    1. daremo
    2. anyone
    1. yobanakatta.
    2. invited.NEG
    1. ‘I did not invite anyone who looked free.’                                                                                               (NPI)
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Karai
    2. spicy
    1. nanimo
    2. anything
    1. tabenakatta.
    2. ate.NEG
    1. ‘I did not eat anything spicy.’                                                                                                                     (NPI)
    1. (60)
    1. a.
    1. *Himasoona
    2. free.looking
    1. daredemo
    2. anyone
    1. yoboo.
    2. invite
    1. ‘Let’s invite anyone/everyone who looks free.’                                                                            (free choice)
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. *Karai
    2. spicy
    1. nandemo
    2. anything
    1. tabe-tai.
    2. eat-want
    1. ‘I want to eat anything/everything spicy.’                                                                                       (free choice)
    1. (61)
    1. a.
    1. Himasoona
    2. free.looking
    1. daremo-o
    2. everyone-ACC
    1. yonda.
    2. invited
    1. ‘I invited everyone who looked free.’                                                                              (universal quantifier)
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Himasoona
    2. free.looking
    1. dare-o
    2. who-ACC
    1. yonda
    2. invited
    1. no?
    2. Q
    1. ‘(Lit.) Who free did you invite?’                                                                                                         (wh-word)

Second, the same group of indeterminate phrases are unique in that they can never be case marked: compare (62)–(63) to (64) (also recall (50)–(54)).

    1. (62)
    1. a.
    1. Daremo(*-o)
    2. anyone-ACC
    1. yobanakatta.
    2. invited.NEG
    1. ‘I did not invite anyone.’                                                                                                                          (NPI)
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Nanimo(*-o)
    2. anything-ACC
    1. tabenakatta.
    2. ate.NEG
    1. ‘I did not eat anything.’                                                                                                                              (NPI)
    1. (63)
    1. a.
    1. Daredemo(*-o)
    2. anyone-ACC
    1. yoboo.
    2. invite
    1. ‘Let’s invite anyone.’                                                                                                                   (free choice)
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Nandemo(*-o)
    2. anything-ACC
    1. tabe-tai.
    2. eat-want
    1. ‘I want to eat anything.’                                                                                                                 (free choice)
    1. (64)
    1. a.
    1. Daremo-o
    2. everyone-ACC
    1. yonda.
    2. invited
    1. ‘I invited everyone who looked free.’                                                                          (universal quantifier)
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Dare-o
    2. free.looking
    1. yonda
    2. who-ACC
    1. no?
    2. invited Q
    1. ‘(Lit.) Who free did you invite?’                                                                                                       (wh-word)

Recall that the proposed analysis of indefinite-pronoun structures has a visible n, which is obligatorily case marked. Thus, it is predicted that an indeterminate phrase in the specifier of LkP cannot be a full-fledged DP. The above data confirm this. QPs, unlike DPs, are nonnominal and hence resist prenominal modification and case marking. Thus, only QPs (caseless existential quantifiers, NPIs, and free-choice items) are grammatical in indefinite-pronoun structures, and full-fledged DPs (universal quantifiers and wh-words) are excluded. This is summarized in (65).

    1. (65)
    1. QP and DP

To summarize the discussion in Section 4, QPs in indefinite-pronoun structures in Japanese are not nominals, and this explains why no linkers appear on QPs. On the other hand, the appearance of linkers in French and Italian (de and di) shows that the indefinite pronouns in these languages are nominals that incorporate light nouns.

5 Conclusion

In this article, I have shown that Japanese indefinite-pronoun structures have light-noun syntax—a QP and a light noun. Thus, the present study supports Leu’s (2005) analysis of indefinite-pronoun structures, providing visible evidence for a syntactic head that is invisible in some other languages. To the extent that the proposed analysis is right, what are called “indefinite pronouns” are not syntactically uniform but come in (at least) two varieties, QP and DP; only the former is allowed in indefinite-pronoun structures in Japanese.

I have mostly focused on the syntax of indefinite-pronoun structures in Japanese. Obviously, it still remains to be seen whether the syntax of indefinite-pronoun structures in all the other languages can be unified. I have suggested a formal way to understand parametric differences between Japanese and English/French indefinite-pronoun structures. Unification, ultimately, will require collaborative research by linguists working on various languages. I leave that for the future.