Mitsukaido Japanese

Family Japonic
Region Asia



Kan Sasaki

Faculty of Business Administration, Sapporo Gakuin University

How to cite the Mitsukaido Japanese dataset  BibTeX

Sasaki, Kan. 2013. Mitsukaido Japanese Valency Patterns.
In: Hartmann, Iren & Haspelmath, Martin & Taylor, Bradley (eds.) 2013.
Valency Patterns Leipzig.
Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
(Available online at, Accessed on 2021-10-18)


95 Verb forms 18 Coding frames 7 Alternations (93.4% avail.) 317 glossed Examples


General comment

Brief description of the Mitsukaido dialect of Japanese

The Mitsukaido dialect of Japanese is spoken in the area around the former Mitsukaido city (now incorporated into Joso city). This area is 50km north to Tokyo, the capital of Japan. In spite of its close location to the economic and cultural center of Japan, the dialect spoken in this area displays phonological and morphosyntactic characteristics different from Standard Japanese.
This dialect is classified as one of the eastern varieties of Japanese dialect. As mentioned below, this dialect shows Tohoku-like characteristics and Kanto-like characteristics simultaneously in both phonology and morphosyntax. This Janus-faced characteristic is a reflection of the geographical situation, i.e., the southern edge of Tohoku dialects.
The population of Joso city is 64,880 (August 16th, 2011). Due to its low inflow of population, most of the population can be regarded as a speaker of the Mitsukaido dialect. The old generation preserves the classic type of grammatical traits, while the speech of the younger generation undergoes influence from Standard Japanese. Sasaki (2011) illustrates that the loss of dialectal features in younger generation is overwhelming but not complete.
This dialect has no written tradition, but some sentences reflecting the grammatical traits of this dialect are found in the modern Japanese literature. The most well-known case is the conversational part of the novel
Tsuchi 'The Earth' written by Takashi Nagatsuka in 1910.
The data used in this article is obtained from speakers aged over 80 and these data reflect traditional features.
The phonemic inventory of this dialect is the same as that of Standard Japanese. This dialect has five vowel phonemes /i, e, a, o, u/ and 11 consonant phonemes /p, t, k, b, d, g, n, m, r, w, j/. The dialect lacks lexical accent.
Despite of its phonemic affinity with Standard Japanese, the surface phonetic realization of cognate words is different from that of Standard Japanese because of the phonological processes not found in Standard Japanese: 'breath' is [iki] in SJ and [egi] in MD; 'square floor cushion' is [dzabutoN] in SJ and [dzaptoN] in MD. Most of the phonological processes responsible for the surface difference are those also found in Tohoku dialects, for example, intervocalic voicing of stops, regressive devoicing of /z/ and /b/, lowering of /i/ without onset, and so on. The phonological processes interact in a complex manner. Some interactions exhibit multiple opaque interactions. For the details of the interaction of phonological processes, see Sasaki (2008a). In order to avoid confusion, I adopt systematic allophones, i.e., the output of the phonological processes, as notation in this database ([ng] stands for velar nasal).
Concerning the morphology relating to valency alternation, both affinity and difference are found between the Mitsukaido dialect and Standard Japanese. The voice system of the Mitsukaido dialect is almost the same as that of Standard Japanese, i.e., both the Mitsukaido dialect and Standard Japanese have productive passive, causative and potential formation, but lack productive anticausativization widely attested in the Tohoku dialects, though the phonological shape of the morphemes is not completely the same: the passive and the potential suffixes are identical to those of Standard Japanese, namely passive /rare/ and potential /e/ and /rare/, while the causative suffix is /sase/ in Standard Japanese but /rase/ in the Mitsukaido dialect.
The difference between the Mitsukaido dialect and Standard Japanese is most prominent with respect to the case system. The case alignment of subject and direct object in the Mitsukaido dialect is accusative type, as in Standard Japanese. However, the morphological shapes of nominative and accusative are different. Nominative is expressed by zero-marking (in Standard Japanese, the case particle -
ga is used). Accusative case form is different depending on the animacy of the host nominal: inanimate direct objects are zero-marked while animate direct objects are case marked with the particle -godo. This type of unmarked nominative and marked accusative system is widely attested in Tohoku dialects (some of them employ -godo as an accusative marker). Due to having two types of accusative case marking, the Mitsukaido dialect has an uncoded valency alternation which is not found in Standard Japanese, namely double accusative possessor ascension and (unproductive) double accusative type dative alternation. For the details of double accusative constructions, see Sasaki (2002).
Another feature distinguishing the Mitsukaido dialect case system from that of Standard Japanese is the degree of elaboratedness of the oblique case particles. The Mitsukaido dialect is more elaborated than Standard Japanese. The semantic sphere of the Standard Japanese dative/locative -
ni is divided among four case particles in the Mitsukaido dialect, i.e., locative -ni, dative -nge/-sa (-nge is used for animate goal and -sa is used for inanimate goal), and experiencer case -ngani. The main usage of the experiencer case particle -ngani is a marker for an experiencer oblique subject. The oblique case specific to experiencer is considered to be typologically rare. See Sasaki (2004) and Sasaki (2008b) for details.
The elaboratedness of the adnominal case particles is also characteristic to this dialect. The Mitsukaido dialect has three adnominal case particles: possessive -
nga, genitive -no, and adnominal locative -na. For details on the usage of these case particles, see Sasaki (1997) and Sasaki & Caluianu (1997).

Sasaki, Kan (1997) Possessive, Genitive and Adnominal Locative in the Mitsukaido Dialect. In: Tooru Hayashi & Peri Bhaskararao (eds.),
Studies in Possessive Expressions. 117-141. Tokyo: Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa.
Sasaki, Kan and Daniela Caluianu (1997) Mitsukaidoo hoogen no rentaishuushoku kaku [Adnominal case particles in the Mitsukaido dialect of Japanese].
Gengo Kenkyu 111. 59-83.
Sasaki, Kan (2002) The double accusative possessor ascension construction in the Mitsukaido dialect of Japanese. In: Tasaku Tsunoda (ed.),
Basic Materials in Minority Languages 2002. (ELPR Publications Series B003) 91-114.
Sasaki, Kan (2004)
Mitsukaidoo Hoogen ni okeru Kaku to Bunpookankei [Case and Grammatical Relations in the Mitsukaido Dialect of Japanese]. Tokyo: Kurosio Publishers.
Sasaki, Kan (2008a) Hardening alternation in the Mitsukaido dialect of Japanese.
Gengo Kenkyu 134. 85-117.
Sasaki, Kan (2008b) What can the Mitsukaido dialect case system tell about syntactic theory?
Journal of General Linguistics 11. 53-84
Sasaki, Kan (2011) Mitsukaidoo hoogen: hyoojungo ni chikai noni tooi hoogen [The Mitsukaido dialect: a dialect that is both close to and far from Standard Japanese]. In: Megumi Kurebito (ed.),
Nihon no Kikigengo [Endangered Languages in Japan]. 101-138. Sapporo: Hokkaido University Press.