Chapter published in:The ‘Noun Phrase’ across Languages: An emergent unit in interaction
Edited by Tsuyoshi Ono and Sandra A. Thompson
[Typological Studies in Language 128] 2020
► pp. 316–327
What can Japanese conversation tell us about ‘NP’?
Our examination of Japanese everyday conversation reveals that a majority of candidate NPs cannot be established as NPs based on traditional criteria, i.e., marking by particles and modification, since they are generally unmarked and unmodified. We examine these cases to reveal the difficulty of determining what to consider an ‘NP’ when analyzing everyday interaction. Our findings question the assumption of NP as a universal category, and in particular cast doubt on the theoretical importance given to the category NP for Japanese in the literature. We recognize instead the quantitatively most frequent cases as the norm, with the minority, more ‘ornamented’, instances as requiring an account. Our study advocates routinely challenging assumed categories arising from our inherited written-language, English-dominated, imagined-data linguistic tradition, and instead shifting our descriptive and theoretical focus to understanding and accounting for the majority instances, in our case the role of unmarked nominals in a grammar of conversation.
Published online: 15 July 2020
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Ono, Tsuyoshi, Thompson, Sandra A. & Suzuki, Ryoko
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