Utterance-final conjunctive particles and implicature in Japanese conversation

Michael Haugh


According to the received view, connective particles are characterised as “bound grammatical markers” that connect two clauses into a ‘sentence’ (Matsumoto, Yo 1988: 345). As Fukushima (2005) points out though, these conjunctions have other functions that go beyond intra-sentential usage. Utterance-final conjunctive particles have been analysed thus far, for the most part, as a type of (clausal) ellipsis or as particles that give rise to various pragmatic effects. In this paper, it is suggested that an approach to utterance-final conjunctive particles that is grounded in the notion of implicature may offer a complementary perspective on this phenomenon. The notions of “(im)politeness implicature” and “interactional implicature” are utilised in order to discuss how utterance-final conjunctive particles may trigger inferences leading to various interpersonal and interactional effects. By carefully analysing the projection and uptake of these implicatures apparent in the sequential development of interpretings conjointly co-constituted in Japanese conversation, it is argued that the analysts’ and participants’ perspectives can be better reconciled to avoid the imposition of an analysis by the researcher which is not contingently relevant to those participants. It is argued that through such an analysis the manner in which linguistic and communicative perspectives on implicature can complement one another can be explored more fully.

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