A Corpus Investigation of the Right-hand Head Rule Applied to Japanese Affixes
right-hand head rule
Herdan's logarithmic function of type-token ratio (log TTR)
The present study investigates differences between Japanese prefixes and suffixes using editions of the Asashi Newspaper published between 1985 and 1998 (Amano & Kondo, 2000). The right-hand head rule (e.g., Kageyama, 1982; Kageyama, 1999; Namiki, 1982; Nishigauchi, 2004; Williams, 1981) predicts that prefixes would be attached to a wide variety of nouns while suffixes would be regularly attached to a smaller group of nouns. Twenty-four frequently-used affixes consisting of 12 prefixes and 12 suffixes were compared according to 7 corpus features, including printed-frequency, productivity, accumulative productivity, commonality, coalescence degree, Herdan's logarithmic function of type-token ratio (log TTR), and entropy. Although a series of Mann-Whitney U-tests calculated for the six corpus features of printed-frequency, productivity, accumulative productivity, commonality, coalescence degree and log TTR did not reveal any differences between the 12 prefixes and the 12 suffixes, the t-test for entropy indicated a significant difference. This suggests that the prefixes were more randomly or chaotically attached to nouns than the suffixes. Although the present findings are limited only to the selected 24 affixes, the result supported the right-hand head rule.