Nominalization in Okinawan
From a diachronic and comparative perspective
This paper demonstrates that the four functions originally tied to rentaikei in Old Japanese (OJ), and its sister-language, Old Okinawan (OOk) have been carried on into Modern Okinawan (MOk). In particular, the new rentaikei maintains adnominal, exclamative and cleft functions (kakari musubi), while the new nominalizer si, takes on a headless relative clause/complementizer function. It is argued here that the rentai and shushi distinction was indeed vital for the preservation of kakari musubi. It is further argued that a complementary distribution between Japanese and Okinawan such that OJ loses its kakari musubi system, prompting Modern Japanese (ModJ) to develop no desu, while MOk renews its kakari musubi system, and consequently does not develop no desu. This paper supports an implicitly assumed claim that the no desu construction is the ModJ counterpart of the OJ kakari musubi. From the point of view of grammaticalization, the development of stance marking functions from kakari musubi (cleft) in Okinawan substantiated Yap et al.’s claim that a cleft construction serves as a crucial link between a nominalizer and a stance marker. In a cross-linguistic perspective, this paper claims that the OJ and Okinawan rentaikei shows versatility seen in various Tibeto-Burman languages such as Chantyal and Lahu.