Argument Encoding in Japanese Conversation by Mitsuaki Shimojo (auth.)

By Mitsuaki Shimojo (auth.)

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Suzuki (1995: 619) states “the more discontinuous the discourse topic is, the more has to be said at boundaries,” as she illustrates with the diagram in (24): (24) more continuous zero anaphora zero-marked phrase wa-marked phrase more discontinuous Ø Nominal + Ø Nominal + wa In terms of cognitive attention, the hierarchy correlates with the cognitive effort required for the three types of attentional shift. For continued topic, no shift of attention is required – hence, the zero anaphor, the most attenuated form.

3 Contrastive wa It has long been pointed out that the wa-marking denotes contrastiveness. Kuno (1972, 1973) has claimed two uses of wa – wa for the theme of a sentence and wa for contrasts. e. e. ” Previous Studies on the Six Argument Encoding Types 29 Kuno states that the NPs marked by wa in (6) and (7) are generic and anaphoric respectively. On the other hand, the statement in (8) is neither generic (since the predicate denotes a temporary state) nor anaphoric (since “rain” is not referential).

The unmarked position for given information, hence a thematic reading), then the wa-marking necessarily invites a contrastive reading. The principle above also points to the inherent contrastiveness associated with a wa-marked object since objects are not sentence-initial in the canonical SOV ordering. In reality, however, the correlation between word ordering and accessibility to contrastive interpretation is not readily observable in oral discourse, due to the dominant use of zero anaphor. In the present conversation data, the majority of object/N2 arguments which are marked with wa are the sole overt argument of the utterance, due to the ellipsed subject/N1.

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