[Lingtyp] Lingtyp Digest , Vol. 80, Issue 26, topic 1

Sebastian Löbner loebner at hhu.de
Thu May 27 21:58:46 UTC 2021

[I'm new to the list and do not know if this is the right way to 
participate in the discussion]

Dear Matthew,

I don't know if this answers the question:

Japanese has four distributive pronouns/adverbs which can be used either 
as distributivity adverbs, like 'each' in adverbial position ('the kids 
each were tested for corona'), and as distributive pronouns, again like 
English 'each'. They all have reduplication morphology: sorezore, 
menmen, meimei, onoono (S. E. Martin, A Reference Grammar of Japanese, 
Yale UP, 1975, p. 1077 and elsewhere).

You can have 'sorezore no N' meaning something like 'each's N'. The 
source of 'sorezore' is the medial deictic nominal pronoun 'sore'. 
Japanese doesn't have plural marking on N. Thus the N in 'sorezore no N' 
is number-neutral. The construction can express distributive possession 
for either single "Ns" or groups of "Ns".

The distributive genitive construction ist probably possible with a 
topic that denotes the totality to be distributed over. I think (I'm not 
a native speaker) that you can say things like

kodomo wa sorezore no N ...

'child TOP each GEN N ...'

If this is correct, there seems to be a general way to express 
distributive possession. I do not know which of the four distributives 
can refer to what kind of object. 'menmen' seems to be restricted to 



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