Cognitive and pragmatic messages of a syntactic choice: The case of the Japanese commentary predicate n(o) da

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Abstract

Although the Japanese predicate n(o) da has been studied extensively, no cohesive account explains why and how it offers diverse meanings and functions in Japanese text and interaction. Based on the distributional constraints of the n(o) da expression in three genres (conversation, fiction, literary essay) of contemporary Japanese and the syntactic nature of the n(o) da structure itself, this study proposes that n(o) da is a ‘commentary predicate’. The commentary predicate offers a strategy to code the speaker's cognitive process of 1) objectification through nominalization, 2) personalization through the nominal predicate da, and 3) situationally and inter-actionally appropriate information organization through the topic-comment structure. A variety of pragmatic meanings attributable to the commentary predicate are then discussed within the analytical framework of Discourse Modality. This study offers a possible solution for analyzing a modal feature of language by 1) finding a cognitive basis coded by its syntactic structure and 2) viewing this cognitive basis as a source for the ensuing pragmatic messages it realizes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)563-614
Number of pages52
JournalText
Volume12
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory

Keywords

  • (n)o da structure
  • Japanese language
  • Japanese predicate
  • cognitive message
  • commentary predicate
  • pragmatic message
  • syntactic choice

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