The Japanese Sentence-Final Particles in Talk-in-Interaction

Hideki Saigo | Kansai Gaidai University
ISBN 9789027256096 | EUR 95.00 | USD 143.00
ISBN 9789027287076 | EUR 95.00 | USD 143.00
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The Japanese sentence-final particles, ne, yo and yone have proved notoriously difficult to explain and are especially challenging for second language users. This book investigates the role of the particles in talk-in-interaction with the aim of providing a comprehensive understanding that accounts for their pragmatic properties and sequential functions and that provides a sound basis for second language pedagogy. This study starts by setting up an original particle function hypothesis based on the figure/ground gestalt, and then tests its validity empirically with unmarked, marked and native/non-native talk-in-interaction data. The analysis illustrates not only expectable but also unexpected or strategic use of particles, as well as the problems posed for native speakers by non-native speakers whose use of particles is idiosyncratic. The study demonstrates that the proposed hypothesis is capable of accounting for all the uses of particles in the extensive and varied data set examined. This book will be of interest to students and scholars in pragmatics and CA and to teachers of Japanese as a foreign language.
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series, 205] 2011.  xiv, 281 pp.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
“My late teacher of Classical Greek always told me that the special difficulty of that language lies in its use of particles. But, he added, “particles are what makes Greek so beautiful”.
I was thinking of my old teacher when I first started reading Hideki Saigo’s treatise on the Japanese sentence-final particles yo, ne and yone. True, these elusive bits of speech are difficult to catch and pinpoint, as the author amply demonstrates, but also, when used properly, they add incomparable beauty, just like colorful flitting butterflies, to the landscape of written and spoken discourse.
Needless to say, mastering the intricacies of such sensitive instruments is a daunting task for a nonnative speaker (and presumably for some of the natives as well). The author sets about not only to explain the use of the sentence-final particles in a rigorous, scientific way, but also to situate their use in everyday conversation, by providing both natives and non-natives with a bounty of live examples, both colloquial and more formal. In particular, the notion of ‘sequentiality’ deserves to be highlighted: the author is among the first scholars to stress the fact that particles, like other linguistic items, only receive their full realization after they have been put to use; that is, the sequence of linguistic events co-determines the value of the item used. A particle, just like an entire sentence, is never ultimatively valued until uttered and followed up on in interaction.
The book addresses itself both to a ‘learned’ audience, language specialists who want to know more about the way the particles are defined and used in Japanese grammar, and to practical users such as students of Japanese who wish to refine their understanding of this difficult part of the Japanese grammar.
The book is written in a lively, entertaining style and the examples are a delight — almost, one could say, worth reading even for one who doesn’t know any Japanese at all, but wants to get a feeling of the language.
Highly recommended to both linguists/teachers and students of Japanese in a medium to advanced university course. Also useful as background reading for teachers at all levels of instruction, e.g. in Conversation Analysis. Because of its accessibility, I would also recommend it to non-specialists who just want to know more about the Japanese and their sometimes (for a gaijin) hard-to-understand ways of expressing themselves.”
“This study certainly contributes to the crosslinguistic analysis of talk-in-interaction. [...] The descriptions of the particles [...] are a remarkable achievement.”
“The analysis of ongoing talk-in-interaction provides not only promising but also necessary food for thought regarding the study of sentence-final particles. The
adopted approach respects the cooperative aspect of the actions that occur between a speaker and a recipient and attempts to understand the function of each utterance by locating it in the unfolding temporal organization of interactions. The sentence-final particles are seen as establishing the bond in the space created by the configurations. In this respect, I wholeheartedly support the author’s approach to investigating the real-life use of the particles.”
“This book makes an important contribution to advancing our understanding of Japanese sentence-final particles. It is of special interest to all scholars concerned with pragmatic issues and discourse organization in Japanese. It is to hope that the results are taken into account in teaching Japanese as a foreign language.”
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2016. Like Godzilla. In Emotion in Multilingual Interaction [Pragmatics & Beyond New Series, 266],  pp. 57 ff. DOI logo
Degand, Liesbeth & Geertje van Bergen
2018. Discourse Markers as Turn-Transition Devices: Evidence From Speech and Instant Messaging. Discourse Processes 55:1  pp. 47 ff. DOI logo
Hoshi, Saori
2022. Effects of Classroom Instruction on the Development of L2 Interactional Resource for Joint Stance Taking: Use of Japanese Interactional ParticleYoin Spontaneous Peer Conversation. Applied Linguistics 43:4  pp. 698 ff. DOI logo
Iwata, Kazuhiko & Tetsunori Kobayashi
2013. 2013 IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing,  pp. 6895 ff. DOI logo
Masuda, Kyoko
2021. Discourse functions and pitch patterns of the Japanese interactional particleyoin student-professor conversation. Journal of Japanese Linguistics 37:2  pp. 229 ff. DOI logo
Zawiszová, Halina
2018. On ´doing friendship´ in and through talk: Exploring conversational interactions of Japanese young people, DOI logo

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Main BIC Subject

CFG: Semantics, Pragmatics, Discourse Analysis

Main BISAC Subject

LAN009000: LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
ONIX Metadata
ONIX 2.1
ONIX 3.0
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2011001230 | Marc record