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Toshiya Tanaka Last modified date:2019.02.18

Professor / Department of Linguistic Environment
Department of Linguistic Environment
Faculty of Languages and Cultures

Graduate School
平成20年度後期、大学院共通科目 英語スピーキング(月曜2限、人環学府)
Administration Post

my educational activities, academic research and personal history .
Academic Degree
Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)
Field of Specialization
English Linguistics, History of the English Language, Historical Social Linguistics, Comparative Linguistics
Outline Activities
As a historical social linguist, I am interested not only in the documented history of the English language (i.e. ca. 700 to this day) but also in the historical and comparative study of Old English grammar, especially of the Old English or Proto-Germanic verbal system. In order to handle a wide variety of issues as to how the OE or PGmc. verbal system grew out of the counterpart of the parent language, I employ comparative Germanic and comparative Indo-European linguistics theories which have evolved through ample and profound knowledge of Gmc. and other IE languages accumulated during these 200 years or more.
Comparative linguistics is based on solid sound laws, and comparative Germanic linguistics in particular is founded on those famous regular sound changes represented by Grimm’s and Verner’s laws. The view has been widely accepted from the beginning of the 21st century onwards that the PIE (Proto-Indo-European) phonological system contained three distinct fricative phonemes called ‘laryngeals’, namely, *h1, *h2, and *h3, whereas this conception, generally called the ‘laryngeal theory’, had been controversial throughout the 20th century. In other words, only *s used to be ascribed as the single fricative phoneme to the set of the PIE sounds, even after Ferdinand de Saussure (1879) Mémoires sur le système primitif des voyelles dans les langues indo-européennes had brought forward a seminal idea, refined into the later ‘laryngeal theory’, in the name of coefficients sonantiques instead of the appellation of ‘laryngeals’, though under his coefficients were subsumed six other ‘sonants’ (i.e. i, u, r, l, m, and n) as well. Since the laryngeal theory got taken as read, new sound laws indispensable for up-to-date investigation have been discovered and the formulation of PIE vowel gradation (or ablaut) traceable in various types of IE inflection and word formation has been simplified and generalized to a larger extent.
On the other hand, the PIE grammar conventionally reconstructed on the strength of the primarily Greco-Aryan evidence might be revised to some degree by, say, the Tocharo-Anatolian data whose studies have progressed markedly since the excavation and decipherment of those languages early in the 20th century. It is expected that the present century will see new elucidation of numerous problems about IE languages that have so far remained unsettled.
My monograph published in 2011 (based on my PhD thesis submitted to the University of Manchester in 2005) attempts to give a new explanatory account of how the OE and PGmc. preterite-present verbs developed from the PIE verbal system. This book has so far been reviewed by three influential scholars in internationally prestigious historical linguistics journals and has also been mentioned in several internationally important works (cf.
One of my current challenges is to try to disclose and/or reconstitute the historical processes through which the seven classes of the OE and PGmc. strong verbs were created from the post-PIE verbal system. I am hoping that the application or non-application of Verner’s law, unambiguously discernible in Gmc. strong verb formations, will afford a substantial clue to explicate the origin and development of the PGmc. strong verb system that can be subdivided into the seven classes.

Regarding education, I have long been engaged in EFL (English as a foreign language) at Kyushu University. In cooperation with my colleagues at the FLC (Faculty of Languages and Cultures), I submitted my manuscripts to and compiled several important teaching materials for the good of students at Kyushu University (cf.

I also contributed to publication of several dictionaries through Sanseido, Kenkyusha, and Shogakukan, Tokyo (cf.
Research Interests
  • A historical and comparative study of the verbal system in Old English or other Germanic languages
    keyword : Old English, verbal system, historical and comparative linguistics
    2005.04I have been engaged in a historical and comparative investigation of the Old English verb system for these years..
Academic Activities
1. Toshiya Tanaka, A Morphological Conflation Approach to the Historical Development of Preterite-Present Verbs: Old English, Proto-Germanic, and Proto-Indo-European, 花書院(福岡), xiii + 320 pages, 2011.03, [URL], 古英語および古ゲルマン語に見られる「過去現在動詞(preterite-present verbs)」の(直説法現在形に見られる)形態的特徴について、比較言語学理論の立場から分析したもの。.
1. 田中俊也, 「語等置の方法」を用いたゲルマン語動詞体系生成に関する比較言語学研究 (課題番号 17520270) 平成17年度~平成20年度科学研究費補助金 (基盤研究(C)) 研究成果報告書, コロニー印刷, xiii + 258 pages (本文はすべて英語による), 2009.03.
2. 田中俊也, ゲルマン語動詞体系成立に関する非ブルークマン的モデルからの研究 (課題番号 14510624) 平成14年度~平成16年度科学研究費補助金 (基盤研究(C)(2)) 研究成果報告書, コロニー印刷, xv + 335 pages (本文は英語による), 2005.03.
3. Toshiya Tanaka, Review: Peter Collins and David Lee (eds.), The Clause in English: In honour of Rodney Huddleston, Studies in English Lieterature, English Number 43 (The English Lieterary Society of Japan), pp.79-87, 2002.03.
4. Shogakukan's Word Pal English-Japanese Dictionary, comp. by Kazuo Araki and Masachiyo Amano, Shogakukan, Tokyo, January 2001..
5. A Dictionary of Technical Terms of English Linguistics.
6. A Comprehensive Guide to Contemporary English Usage and Abusage, ed. by Kazuo Araki, Kenkyusha, Tokyo, December 1996..
7. Introduction to Chaucerian English, by Arthur O. Sandved..
8. Sanseido's New Dictionary of English Grammar, edd. by Kazuo Araki and Minoru Yasui, Sanseido, Tokyo, July 1992..
1. On morphological differences between class IV and V strong and preterite-present verbs in Germanic: A critical examination of Schumacher’s (2005) treatise and a new proposal based on morphological conflation, [URL].
2. On the sporadic voicing of the root-final fricative in the Germanic strong class V preterite plural formations: with special reference to the case of *wes- 'be, stay, dwell'.
3. Some Thoughts on the Origin and Development of the Germanic Strong IV and V Preterite Plural Formations.
4. Toshiya Tanaka, Osthoff's Law and the Rise of the Strong I-III Preterite Plural Formations in Proto-Germanic, 『言語文化論究』第25号(九州大学言語文化研究院), pp.7-15, 2010.03.
5. Toshiya Tanaka, The Proto-Germanic Third Person Strong Preterite and the Proto-Indo-European 'Type I' Thematic Present Formations: With Special Reference to the Strong IV and V Classes, 『言語科学』第44号(九州大学大学院言語文化研究院言語研究会), 第44号、pp.1-23, 2009.03.
6. Toshiya Tanaka, The Origin and Development of the *es- vs. *wes- Suppletion in the Germanic Copula: From a Non-Brugmannian Standpoint, NOWELE Volume 40 (Odense University Press), pp.3-27, 40, 3-27, 2002.04.
7. Toshiya Tanaka, Prosodic Features of Old English Preterite-Present Verbs: Evidence from Beowulf, 『英語英文学論叢』第51集(九州大学英語英文学研究会), pp.1-26, 2001.01.
8. Toshiya Tanaka, Old English MAGAN and Related Verbs: Further Evidence for a Hyperlexical Approach., 天野政千代、他(編)『言語の深層を探ねて』(東京:英潮社), pp.489-506. , 1996.10.
9. Toshiya Tanaka, Mental Representations in Developing Modals: A Cross-Linguistic and Cross-Cultural Review., J. Altarriba (ed.) Cognition and Culture: A cross-cultural approach to cognitive psychology (Advances in psychology 103, Amsterdam: North-Holland), pp. 77-94., 103, 77-94, 1993.10.
10. Toshiya Tanaka, Characteristics of Ability-Signifying Verbs in Earlier English and Other Languages: A Synchronic and Diachronic Investigation., Linguistics Vol. 29, No. 3 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter), pp.361-396., 10.1515/ling.1991.29.3.361, 29, 3, 361-396,,5&hl=ja
, 1991.08.
11. Toshiya Tanaka, Semantic Changes of CAN and MAY: Differentiation and Implication., Linguistics Vol. 28, No. 1 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter), pp.89-123., 28, 1, 89-123, 1990.05.
1. Toshiya Tanaka, A Scheme for a Morphological Conflation Approach to the Origin and Development of the Germanic Strong and Preterite-Present Verbs, Japan Society of Historical Linguistics (日本歴史言語学会), 2015.12, The aim of this oral presentation is to offer an outline sketch of a ‘morphological conflation theory’ which aims to explain how the system of the Germanic strong and preterite-present verbs grew out of the Proto-Indo-European verb system.
The current talk will focus on the fact that, although the preterite tense formations of the strong verbs and the present tense formations of the preterite-present verbs in ancient Germanic languages and/or Proto-Germanic tend to be similar in form, there seem to be two crucial morpho(phono)logical differences:

(1) Class IV and V plural formations of these two distinct verbs at issue show an outstanding morphological discrepancy, as represented below:
  strong preterite plurals    preterite-present present plurals
having a long vowel in the root pointing to an original zero-grade radix
Class IV *bǣr-un ‘they bore, carried’ *skul-un ‘they owe, shall, should’
     < pre-PGmc. *bhēr-n̥t   < pre-PGmc. *skl̥-n̥t
Class V *mǣt-un ‘they measured’ *nuǥ-un ‘they are enough, suffice’
  < pre-PGmc. *mēd-n̥t   < pre-PGmc. *nek̂-n̥t

(2) As far as Gothic is concerned, strong class I-VI verbs do not exhibit any Verner’s law effect in their preterite plural formations (e.g. class V preterite plural wesun ‘they were’ but not **wezun), whereas two of the preterite-present verbs retain forms with an outcome of Verner’s law (e.g. áigum and áigun ‘we/they possess’ as well as þaúrbum, þaúrbuþ, þaúrbun ‘we/you/they need’).

The proposed ‘morphological conflation approach’ attempts to give a consistent, explanatory account of these two apparently non-interrelated phenomena in the following two terms:

(3) The content of the morphological conflation theory in question
A: The PGmc. strong preterite tense formation was created from an amalgamation of two types of the imperfect active (i.e. the acrostatic 1 and amphikinetic types) and the reduplicating perfect active.
B: The PGmc. preterite-present present tense formation system arose from a mixture of the athematic present middle (more exactly, the medium tantum or root stative-intransitive present; or otherwise, the reduplicating perfect middle) and the reduplicating perfect active.

Despite the necessarily limited empirical evidence that is available, only through such a conflation theory does it seem possible to account for the attested Germanic strong and preterite-present verb formations.
2. Toshiya Tanaka, The Laryngeal Theory and the Narten Hypothesis: Towards an Explanation of Some Morphophonological Characteristics of the Germanic Strong Verbs, LVC (Language Variation and Change) Reseach Forum 2015, 2015.05, [URL], There are some morphophonological differences between strong and preterite-present verbs in Germanic, which have long remained theoretically unexplained. Although, at first glance, they appear mutually unrelated, some theory might give solutions to them at the same time, disclosing their invisible or concealed interrelationship. A proposed ‘morphological conflation theory’, which might shed a new light on a hidden interrelation between those issues, consists of the following two assumptions (cf. Tanaka 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013ab, 2015):
(1) Gmc. strong (at least class I-VI) verbs evolved from a mix of the PIE reduplicating perfect active and athematic root imperfect active (either the amphikinetic or acrostatic 1 = Narten type).
(2) Gmc. preterite-present verbs developed from an amalgamation of the PIE reduplicating perfect active and athematic present middle (or reduplicating perfect middle).
The assumption in (1) presupposes that the Narten or acrostatic 1 present (and imperfect) formation was at least to some extent productive in the PIE verbal system. In other words, it does not expect that the Narten present/imperfect paradigm was limited only to a small number of PIE verbs. It remains a debatable problem that no IE language shows the Narten or acrostatic 1 present/imperfect inflection in a productive fashion. In Vedic Sanskrit, one of the oldest documented IE languages, for example, only a small number of verbs exhibit Narten present/imperfect active forms (cf. Gotō 2013: pp.102-103 §
The hypothesis spelled out in (1) and (2) might appear to be simple and elegant, but it is a critical problem that no IE language directly attests the Narten (or acrostatic 1) present/imperfect inflection in a productive manner. Nevertheless, this situation is comparable to how the laryngeal theory had been exposed to criticisms since de Saussure’s (1879) original proposal. It had taken much time before the laryngeal theory was accepted widely, for no daughter lE language showed direct evidence of the three distinctive laryngeal phonemes, *h1, *h2, and *h3. (Hittite velar or pharyngeal fricatives h and hh reflect mainly *h2, possibly along with *h3.) Yet the theory was finally accepted widely at the beginning of the 21st century, probably because around that time sufficient amount of evidence for it had been gathered up and because the laryngeal theory consists of simple and elegant assumptions and is capable of disclosing hidden interrelationship of various apparently independent phenomena observable in IE languages.
As for the Narten hypothesis, this talk claims that the Kümmel-Melchert interpretation of a Narten present/imperfect is plausible: A Narten present/imperfect is a derivative formation with an é-infix and a type of characterised present/imperfect. If this idea is correct, any PIE verbal root (either an atelic/durative or telic/momentary radix) was at least potentially capable of deriving a Narten present/imperfect by means of an é-infix. Thereafter, the pre-PGmc. verbal system might have inherited a significant number of Narten presents and imperfects from the PIE system, so Narten imperfects could contribute to newly creating the system of strong preterites, whilst Narten presents had become extinct before the PGmc. period.
In any case, in order to make the case that the Narten present/imperfect formation was at least potentially productive in the PIE verbal system, independent pieces of supporting evidence for the Narten present/imperfect ought to be piled up, just as evidence for the laryngeal theory used to be gathered together during the last century..
3. Toshiya Tanaka, Remarks on some Morphophonological Differences Between Strong and Preterite-Present Verbs in Germanic, LVC (Language Variation and Change) Research Forum 2014, 2014.05, [URL], This paper focuses on the fact that when, we carefully compare specific morphophonological features of the Germanic strong preterite and preterite-present present tense formations, we find two remarkable differences between them. Recognition of this fact leads to the conclusion that those differences cannot be sufficiently explained by simply assuming that both of them come from the PIE perfect alone; hence, some new explanatory theory is needed. Though no specifically new proposal will be provided in this talk, part of one is spelled out in my previous papers, and remaining issues will be postponed for future studies..
4. Verner's Law in Germanic Strong Class V Preterite Plural Formations: With Special Reference to the Case of *wes- 'be, stay, dwell'.
5. Why do the Germanic Strong IV and V Preterite Plural Formations Morphologically Differ from the Preterite-Present IV and V Present Plural?: A Critical Examination of Schumacher’s (2005) Treatise and a New Proposal in View of a Morphological Conflation Theory
6. Toshiya Tanaka "Some Thoughts on the Origin and Development of the Gmc. Strong IV and V Preterite Plural Formations." A Paper read on 18 December 2011 at the first conference of the Japan Society for Historical Linguisitcs held at Toyonaka Campus, Osaka University..
Membership in Academic Society
  • The Linguistic Society of Japan
  • English Linguistics Society of Japan
  • English Literary Society of Japan
  • Japan Society for Historical Linguistics
  • The Philological Society
Educational Activities
I am teaching English to the 1st and 2nd year students at Ito. I contributed my manuscripts to A Passage to English, textbook edited by the English Department and published by Kyushu University Press. During the period August 2012 to March 2014, I also participated in an EEP (Enhanced Education Program) project, and as a result, Kyudai Eitan (Kenkyusha, Tokyo) was brought out in March 2014.
Other Educational Activities
  • 2014.03, Kyudai Eitan English Vocabulary Handbook, edited by the Kyudai Eitan Compilation Committee, FLC, Kyushu University, pubulished by Kenkyusha, Tokyo, March 2014 .
  • 2009.03, An editorial staff member for A Passage to English (5th edition 3nd print), while also comtritubing my own manuscripts to this textbook..
  • 2008.03, An editorial staff member for A Passage to English (5th edition 2nd print), while also comtritubing my own manuscripts to this textbook..
  • 2007.03, An editorial staff member for A Passage to English (5th edition), while also comtritubing my own manuscripts to this textbook..
  • 2006.11, I contributed to the 'open English class activity' by showing to high school English teachers the Thursday 3rd period English IIB class in my charge (Rooms 120 and 121). .
  • 2006.03, An editorial staff member for A Passage to English (4th edition), while also contributing my own manuscripts to this textbook..
  • 2006.02.
  • 2006.02.
Professional and Outreach Activities
I gave a lecture on Japanese culture and history in English for the benefit of foregin trainees at JICA in April-July 2003, May 2004, March 2006 and March 2007. .