Article published in:The Role of Semantic, Pragmatic, and Discourse Factors in the Development of Case
Edited by Jóhanna Barðdal and Shobhana L. Chelliah
[Studies in Language Companion Series 108] 2009
► pp. 401–422
From less personal to more personal: Subjectification of ni-marked NPs in Japanese discourse
The Japanese ni is a postpositional particle, known for its wide range of semantic and grammatical roles such as a marker of locations, directions, recipients, and dative subjects. Based on an examination of pre-modern and modern Japanese texts, this study documents how the most basic meaning/usage of ni-marked NPs to mark stative locations has attained more subjective meaning/usage over the course of history. As discussed in Heine (1997), the transition from one stage to another is gradual, involving each new stage coexisting with the prior stages. These overlaps create ambiguity in structure and meaning. The study shows the importance of diachronic perspectives to help us better understand the ways in which semantic and pragmatic changes are represented synchronically.
Published online: 11 March 2009