In the book The Japanese Copula: Forms and Functions there's a passage that says:

The existence of an adverbial copula is expected when we consider the fact that adjectives inflect to end form, the pre-norminal form and the adverbial form without the help of the copula ar-

Trying to wrap my head around what is an adverbial copula, I realized the following:

In Japanese, you can move a verb to before a noun to create a subordinate adjectival clause.

castle SUB to move
城     が  動く
The castle moves.

to move castle
動く     城
A castle that moves. A moving castle.

A copula is a verb, so you can do the same with it, except that な is the adjectival version and だ is predicative.

country SUB peaceful COP
国      が  平和      だ
The country is peaceful.

peaceful COP country
平和     な   国
The country that is peaceful. A peaceful country.

So does this mean that every na-adjective in Japanese technically introduces a new clause? Because な is a copula. A copula is a verb. You can't have two verbs in a single clause. So every time there's a な there must be a new clause, right?


平和 に       生きる
To live peacefully.

If に is an adverbial copula, that means 平和に is a subordinate adverbial clause?

  • 3
    "A copula is a verb" is a proposition that requires justification in the language-specific case of Japanese. But leaving that aside, there are two competing grammatical analyses of nominal adjectives like heiwa. In one, the -na has been grammaticalized as an inflection, and heiwa-na kuni is parallel to oki-i kuni (under this assumption heiwa-na is one word). The other analysis is as you propose, and under this assumption, yes, the no/ni/na is an inflected copula and heiwa na- a syntactic unit equivalent to heiwa da (or ringo da), only in subordinate position. – melissa_boiko Nov 2 '18 at 8:14
  • 1
    You might want to consider asking this on Japanese Language. – Jeff Zeitlin Nov 2 '18 at 13:24

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