In the history of the Japanese language, there have been several types of nominalization with different morphological, syntactic and semantic properties. On the morphological side, nominalization has been expressed by inflectional means, derivational means and by free or semi-free morphemes. On the syntactic side, some qualify as a clausal nominalization, some as lexical nominalization with consequences for the level and type of projection. Finally, on the semantic side, the different types of nominalization may encode propositions (as complement clauses), manner, exclamatives (as sentence types), or function as relative clauses (both head-internal and head-external).
In this talk I will give an historical overview of what is arguably the most important means of nominalization in Modern Japanese, no and koto. I will show that their ways to nominalizerhood differ significantly. The nominalising no has undergone numnerous reanalyses and, quite likely, it owes its present-day status to some morphological changes in the history of Japanese. The nominalizer koto, on the other hand, only underwent one significant reanalysis, but like no, it seems that it owes at least some of its status as a nominalizer today to a less well-documented morphological change in Old Japanese.