Publication details [#56249]

Morita, Emi. 2012. Deriving the socio-pragmatic meanings of the Japanese interactional particle ne. Journal of Pragmatics 44 (3) : 298–314.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher


In previous work, the author claimed that the use of Japanese ne in conversation expressly produces a sanctioned space where participants can negotiate interactive alignment issues in the moment (Morita, 2005).According to many cognitive-, socio-, and psycholinguistic studies of ne, though, speakers and listeners assign a broad range of higher-level interpretations to this particle, such that speakers employ ne to feature “politeness”, “over-friendliness”, “femininity”, or “sharedness of information”, none of which appear to be relevant to the core organizational function of ne. The purpose of this paper is to show how my previous analysis of ne as a negotiation tool for resolving contingency problems can be understood with respect to the impressionistic interpretations provided by other theorists. I argue that impressions of differential stance taking are only possible when participants can rely on ne's fundamental function at the micro-level interaction as their base. Such thematization of interactive alignment may then lead to impressionistic hearings that invoke concepts of higher-order sociality, such as “politeness”, “neediness”, “coerciveness”, and (according to certain ideologies) “femininity”. I thus attempt to show here how these seemingly incongruous understandings of the Japanese interactional particle ne can be simultaneously correct.