10   The uniqueness parameter

This squib proposes, in a preliminary fashion, a kind of macro parameter, the “uniqueness” parameter, which is to derive various properties of languages over a wide range of phenomena. I will focus on the comparative syntax of English and Japanese, since these two languages exhibit clear and almost across-the-board contrasts with respect to what one might call the uniqueness effect.

There are two well-known phenomena in which English and Japanese show a clear contrast: the multiple subject construction and scrambling. Japanese has a multiple subject (or more accurately, “multiple nominative”) construction, while English does not. (A familiar qualification about the Japanese examples with respect to the “topic-orientation” ...

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