This site presents English translations of several of the research contributions of the late Professor Hideo Teramura (1928-1990), who contributed greatly to the development of the fundamentals of Japanese language studies and Japanese language education through the 1970s and 1980s.

Late Professor Hideo Teramura

Among Professor Teramura’s publications, special mention is due “Rentaishūshoku no shintakkusu to imi – sono 1 ~ sono 4 [The syntax and semantics of noun modification – parts 1 through 4]” (Nihongo Nihonbunka [Studies in Japanese Language and Culture]. 1975-1978. Bulletin of the Department for Foreign Students, Ōsaka University of Foreign Studies), a set of ground-breaking studies of noun (adnominal) modification expressions in Japanese. In this series of studies, Professor Teramura proposed a framework for the description and analysis of Japanese noun (adnominal) modification expressions and also proposed a categorization of the relations between the adnominal modifying portion and the modified word (the “base noun”) into uchi no kankei ‘inner relation’ constructions (relative clauses: e.g. sanma o yaku otoko [saury ACC grill man] ‘the man grilling a saury’) and soto no kankei ‘outer relation’ constructions (noun complement clauses: e.g. sanma o yaku nioi [saury ACC grill smell] ‘the smell of (someone) grilling saury’). In this series, he also touches on structures like atama ga yoku naru hon [head NOM good become] ‘(lit) a book that you become smarter’ (inner relation reduced forms, forms intermediate between inner and outer relation constructions) that require pragmatic inference for interpretation. One study in the series, “Syntax and semantics of noun modification – part 3” appeared in an abbreviated form in English in 1969 with the title, “The syntax of noun modification in Japanese”. In a paper titled Meishishūshokubu no hikaku [Comparison of noun-modifying structures] published in 1980, Professor Teramura reported on his English and Japanese comparative research and, after drawing attention to a number of points needing caution in comparative research in general, cast light on the similarities and differences between the two languages.

However, since these works are written in Japanese, the valuable results of Professor Teramura’s research into noun (adnominal) modification have until now been inaccessible to most of the world’s scholars. To remedy this situation, the National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics (NINJAL) included in its third six-year Medium-Term Plan (April 2016 ~ March 2022) as part of the sub-project Noun Modifying Expressions (Leader: Prashant Pardeshi, Sub-Leader: Kaoru Horie) within the project Cross-Linguistic Studies of Japanese Prosody and Grammar (Leader: Haruo Kubozono) a project to translate into English and make available without charge the five works: Teramura (1975-1978) Rentaishūshoku no shintakkusu to imi – sono 1 ~ sono 4 [The syntax and semantics of noun modification – parts 1 through 4] included in Teramura Hideo Ronbunshū I – Nihonbunpō-hen [The collected works of Hideo Teramura I – Works on Japanese grammar] (Kurosio Publishers. 1992) and Teramura (1980) Meishishūshokubu no hikaku [Comparison of noun-modifying structures] included in Teramura Hideo Ronbunshū II – Gengogaku–Nihongokyōiku-hen [The collected works of Hideo Teramura II – Works on linguistics and Japanese language education] (Kurosio Publishers. 1993).

Thanks to the good offices of Professor Takashi Masuoka, professor, Kansai Gaidai University and of Professor Tarō Kageyama, Director-General, NINJAL, both of whom studied under Professor Teramura, permission was obtained from Professor Teramura’s family to make an English translation and to publish the translation on the NINJAL website. We also obtained the services of Dr. John Haig, Associate Professor, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (retired) to make the English translation. It is a great pleasure to have had such fortunate circumstances come together and to be able to present these Japanese language research results.

Noun modification expressions in Japanese have a broad range of functions and have the interesting characteristic that they are subject more to semantic or pragmatic constraints than to syntactic constraints. Whether, when compared with the many languages of the world, Japanese noun modifications expressions are exceptional or whether similar constructions are to be commonly found in other languages is a profoundly interesting research topic. I am confident that this English translation of Professor Teramura’s works will be a valuable reference for scholars around the world in the reconsideration of the description and analysis of noun (adnominal) modification in particular languages.

Prashant Pardeshi (Professor, Theory and Typology Division, National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics)