The Unspecified Use of Demonstrative are in Japanese Everyday Talk

  • Author / Creator
    Daiju, Saori
  • Japanese distal demonstrative are ‘that’ has long been examined mostly with regard to its spatial use and overt expression in discourse by using constructed sentences. With regard to spatial use, are is used to refer to something far from both the speaker and the addressee (Sakuma 1992 [1936], etc.). As for anaphoric use (Kuno 1973 etc.), are is used to refer back to a referent previously introduced in the discourse. Recently, the cataphoric usage of are in conversation has been highlighted, i.e., cataphoric are serves as a ‘dummy’ to project a subsequent specification (Hayashi 2004). However, in examining conversations, I have found that speakers sometimes use are without having a specific referent in the discourse (hereafter, unspecified are); this type of are occurs when the speaker does not have an exact referent yet still recognizes its presence. It is interesting to note that the addressee has no trouble in continuing the conversation while leaving the referent unspecified, suggesting that the conversation can carry on without having an exact identification of the referent. Unspecified are occurs in three structural configurations in the data of this study, suggesting that these expressions have been grammaticized as prefabs (e.g., Bybee 2010) for serving this unspecified function. By exploring unspecified are, this study thus highlights the importance of using conversation to investigate actual language use.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2018
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
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