The centrality of thematic relations in japanese text

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This paper examines three ways in which thematic relations are realized in Japanese text. Scholars in the past have focused on limited cases of thematization in Japanese — mostly realized by the thematic particle wa from the given-new information perspective. Following and advancing this tradition, in this paper I analyze three cases of thematic relations; (1) the staging effect realized by thematization and non-thematization in narrative discourse, (2) the expressive effect of the nominal predicate n(o) da which possesses thematic structural properties, and (3) the poetic effect of thematic suspension realized by thematic (interrogative) clauses.I emphasize that thematization is a phenomenon which pervades every aspect of the Japanese language. The three types of thematic relations explored in this study although constituting only the tip of the iceberg — provide evidence for the claim that the nature of the Japanese language is theme-centered in contrast to the subject-predicate-prominent nature of Indo-European languages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-260
Number of pages32
JournalFunctions of Language
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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