Understanding Japanese : A Handbook for Learners and Teachers

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Understanding Japanese — A handbook for learners and teachers —


Kurosio Publishers Tokyo

Kurosio Publishers 3-16-5 Koishikawa, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-0002, Japan © Yasuko Obana


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or informa­ tion storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher. This book was printed by Morimoto Insatsu, Inc. and bound by Sakamoto Seihon, Inc.. Printed in Japan. 02 01 00

3 2 1

Yasuko Obana Understanding Japanese — A handbook for learners and teachers —

ISBN 4-87424-187-5


P R E F A C E .......................................................................................................... i IN T R O D U C T IO N -How to understand this book-.................................... 5 T O T H E R E A D E R -Glossary o f linguistic term s-.................................. 17 A B B R E V IA T IO N S ........................................................................................ 27 C h a p te r 1: JA PANESE AS A T O P IC -C O M M E N T L A N G U A G E ...................... 29 1.0. Introduction.....................................................................................29 1 .1 . iopic marker wa and case m arkers..............................................33 1.1.1. Case m arkers..........................................................................33 1.1.2. Topic marker w a ....................................................................36 1.2. Wa and topic-comment structures................................................44 1.3. Ga and its functions ........................................................................65 1.3.1. Semantic functions o f g a ..................................................... 65 1.3.2. Syntactic functions o f g a ..................................................... 68 1.3.3. Wa, g a or 0 ? ........................................................................ 74 1.4. 0 and its functions......................................................................... 79 1.4.1. Semantic functions o f 0 ....................................................... 79 1.4.2. The omission o f 0 .................................................................89 1.5. N i and its fim ctions........................................................................ 90 1.5.1. M ajor case marker, n i .......................................................... 90 1.5.2. Minor case marker, n i .......................................................... 95 1.6. Interrelations o f ga, 0 and n i ........................................................ 98 N o te s ....................................................................................................... ⑴ 4 E n d n o tes...............................................................


U nderstanding Japanese

Chapter 2: JAPANESE AS A S PE A K E R -O R IE N T E D L A N G U A G E ............113 2.0. Introduction................................................................................... 113 2.1. Deictic or intrinsic?.......................................................................120 2.1.1. The description o f locations and the speaker^ place ...120 2.1.2. Describing time and the Speaker’s view in Japanese …124 2.2. The Speaker’s view and language constructions................... 136 2 .2 .1 . The Japanese view and the English v ie w .................... 137 2.2.2. Japanese as a speaker-oriented la n g u ag e........................146 2.2.3. The speaker’s orientation and em otion............................ 151 2 .2 .3 .1 . The speaker’s experience in passive fo rm s......151 2 2 3 2 . The verbs/fo/and

........................................... 156

The a u x i l i a r i e s - / A i / a n d ..............................163

2.2.4. The Omission o f the grammatical subject, watashi w a /g a .......................................................................169 2.3. S u m m a ry ........................................................................................183 N o te s ........................................................................................................184 Chapter 3: JAPANESE AS A LANGUAGE O F U C H I AND SO TO


3.0. Introduction....................................................................................187 3.1. The Concept o f uchi and s o t o .....................................................188 3.2. Three types o f uchi consciousness............................................. 193 3.3. H onorifics.......................................................................................197 3.3.1. General v ie w ........................................................................197 3.3.2. The concept o f ‘politeness ’:its sociological significance in English and Japanese..............................200 3.3.3. Honorific fo rm s .................................................................. 209 Sonkei and kenjoo s ty le s ....................................... 209 Honorific prefixes o- and g o - ...............................215 Formal sty les............:............................................. 216



3.3.4. The distinction between uchi and s o to ............................217 3.3.5. Politeness strategics in Japanese...................................... 227 3.3.6. S u m m ary ..............................................................................240 3.4. Demonstrative t o

r e ............................................................241

3.5. V f+ te-kureru.................................................................................245 3.6. V f + - ta i.......................................................................................... 252 3.7. Causative (V r+ -seruIsaseru)..................................................... 255 3.8. Particles,

a n d 7 0 ...................................................................... 260

3.9. S u m m a ry ....................................................................................... 268 N o te s ....................................................................................................... 269 Chapter 4: JA PANESE AS AN E L L IP T IC L A N G U A G E ....................................271 4.0. Introduction...................................................................................271 4.1. Syntactic ellip sis.......................................................................... 277 4.2. Pragmatic ellipsis......................................................................... 285 4.2.1. Personal pronouns and their ellip sis................................288 4.2.2. Non-complete sentences and im plicature...................... 295 4.3. Ellipsis-looking sentences (but not elliptic).............................301 4.3.1. Subjectless sentences..........................................................302 4.3.2. The Unagi-sentence............................................................312 4 .3 .2 .1 .Mutual know ledge.................................................. 316 4.32.2.

Linguistic presupposition.....................................318 Extra-linguistic presupposition.............................321 Contrastive focus elem en ts................................... 323 4 3 .2.5.

Evidential sentences............................................. 326 S um m ary..................................................................328 N o te s ....................................................................................................... 奶 E n d n o tes.................................................................................................329 R E F E R E N C E S .............................................................................................333 IN D E X ............................................................................................................ 343


This book was written for learners o f the Japanese language who have reached the intermediate or higher levels, or who have learned more than a half o f the basic Japanese grammar, and for teachers o f Japanese who are looking for references which provide pedagogical guidance. Linguistic stu­ dents with some knowledge o f Japanese will be also benefited from this book, particularly from the explanations of certain conceptualised behaviours of Japa­ nese. All the examples in the text offer both Japanese characters and their romanised versions, and the latter are morphologically glossed for linguistic students. In my experience o f teaching Japanese, I have lamented the lack o f texts or reference books which could specifically aid learners o f higher levels of competency in Japanese grammar in their quest to close the gap between me­ chanical application o f grammatical rules to produce sentences and natural Japanese. There are many pedagogical texts written in Japanese. However, they are targeted at teachers who are native speakers o f Japanese. References written in English are available, but are academically specialised and concerned with theorising language phenomena to prove their standpoints. Thus, very few books seem to address the academic layman, exemplifying errors derived from backgrounds o f the English language. Learners are often perplexed as to why the grammar they learned cannot be directly applied to produce correct sentences, and how natural Japanese still avoids them. This is because intrinsic features o f Japanese determine cer­ tain structural arrangements. This book was therefore written predominantly


U nderstanding Japanese

to assist learners in their quest to achieve natural Japanese, and as a resource text which manifests distinctive differences between English and Japanese in their linguistic arrangements due to their different sociological, socio-psychological, and cognitive backgrounds. This book is not a grammar book. It does not cover every grammatical item. It aims to answer learners’ questions and difficulties. Based on learners’ errors and my own experience in teaching Japanese, this book collected cer­ tain grammatical items carrying common features which are closely related to basic idiosyncrasies o f Japanese, or presenting generalised concepts. Gram­ matical items are normally learnt at random, and seem to exist independently from one another. However, they may often demonstrate a common feature which can be generalised as a certain concept. In this respect, this book could be regarded as an introduction to Japanese linguistics. However, I have kept the material appropriate to the specific errors encountered by learners without too much linguistic jargon. Some technical terms which inevitably occur are explained at the beginning o f the book (in ‘To the reader’), or otherwise are briefly explained in the text. In writing this book, therefore, I have always had in mind the learners of Japanese at my university who are or have been my students. I do not intend to lead readers to academic battles in the linguistic world. Also, this book mainly refers to English when it is necessary to compare it with Japanese. This is because English is the language which is the native or working language of Australian students. Errors exemplified in the text are often derived from backgrounds of the English language. While admitting that many immigrants and overseas students particularly from Asian countries are learning Japanese in Australia, it is beyond my ability to refer to other language backgrounds as a comparison with very little knowledge o f other languages than English and Japanese. Four axioms are introduced in this book. First, Japanese is a topic-comment language while English is a subject-predicate language (Chapter 1).The primary concern here is that the particle wa is not a subject marker, but a topic



marker. This will explain further that many structures in Japanese are not con­ strued as the combination o f subjects with predicates. They primarily form the relation between topic and comment. This chapter will also examine other particles such as ga, o and ni. I selected structures containing these particles which are most misleading for learners, and will explain the basic functions of these particles in grammar. I will then clarify that these three particles do not exist as separate grammatical items, but are interrelated to one another. The second axiom is that Japanese is a speaker-oriented language (Chap­ ter 2). This chapter will elucidate how objects are diversely described in English and Japanese. Language construction is not a matter o f arranging units according to grammatical rules. The speaker’s viewpoint is involved in describing a phenomenon in linguistic terms, and different points o f view will contribute to different linguistic arrangements in a sentence. The Speaker’s view determines structural arrangements and selects a certain grammatical term. This chapter will also cover verbs and auxiliaries o f direction ('com e5 and 'g o 5and their auxiliary forms, -kuru and -iku), partial passive forms, and non-subject structures. The third axiom is that Japanese is a language of uchi and soto (Chapter 3). The sociological term, uchi (=inside) consciousness, is entailed first in honor­ ific systems. Based on my experience in teaching, the most confusing aspects o f honorifics for learners are selected for analysis. The discussion is then extended to situational and psychological uchi which enables certain gram­ m atical item s to occur such as causatives, passives, desire verbs and demonstratives. The fourth axiom is that Japanese is an elliptic language (‘ellipsis’ refers to the phenomenon o f omission o f units in a sentence). Japanese is one of languages which allow many units to be omitted in a sentence. Both Japanese and English carry the phenomena o f ellipsis, but Japanese observes more ellipsis because its sentence structure does not obligatorily require subject, object or complement to occur. Ellipsis is one o f most rigorously discussed ^in theoretical linguistics, but this chapter will avoid these theoretical issues


U nderstanding Japanese

and hypotheses; instead, the focus will be on explaining the backgrounds of ellipsis which will be useful for learners when constructing natural Japanese, including the discussion o f why ellipsis occurs and why it does not. The chapter will also refer to personal pronouns because they are hardly uttered in conversational interaction. The axioms above are suggested in order to organise this book by showing some distinctive features o f Japanese, particularly features which were noted from learners5errors and difficulties. Therefore, it should not be understood that the axioms raised in this book cover every phenomenon in Japanese, or be interpreted as exclusive to Japanese. Whether systematically or not, the axioms may apply to many other languages. To complete this book, many people helped and gave me advice. In spite o f 15 years5living in Britain and Australia, I am still struggling with English although this has given me a lot o f opportunities to consider my students in teaching Japanese. Sarah Kemp was kind enough to proofread all the chapters, and to give me advice in structuring natural English. I would like to express many thanks to Sarah. My gratitude goes to Peter Davidson, who corrected English and gave me useful comments. I thank Rebecca Cummings, who suggested many points in order to achieve learner-friendly grammatical explanations in the chapters. I am grateful for Keiji Ogawa, the Kurosio Publishers, who suggested many valuable points and proofread the book for a further improvement. Many thanks to Junko Hibiya, who gave me several suggestions. I also acknowledge grants and a women’s fellowship from the University o f Queensland, which enabled me to finalise the book successfiilly. Finally, I thank all my past and present students at the University of Queensland who motivated me to commence writing this book, and gave me insights into my native tongue, Japanese. The author welcomes the reader’s comments and suggestions after reading this book, e-mail address: [email protected]uq.edu.au

IN TR O D U C TIO N -How to understand this book-

This book consists of four chapters, each of which carries a theme as manifested in the title of each chapter. Each theme is treated as an axiom, which is broken down into sections and subsections where specific grammatical domains are discussed. Rather than listing individual grammatical items, this book takes the top-down approach because it aims to present axiomatic concepts underlying language construction. It is my hope that after reading this book, the reader will conceptually grasp what language backgrounds make the Japanese language stand charac­ teristically in contrast with the English language, and will be capable o f using these concepts as yardsticks to apply them to other phenomena he/she will encounter in the future. Although I do not deny the importance o f the text which provides the details o f grammar and examples which are most likely to be hurdles for learners, nor usefulness of putting them into practice, my aim is to further than the orbit of particular grammatical items, and to assist learners to achieve a level o f natural Japanese. This is because I believe that there is a more expedient means by which Japanese language can be learnt (especially when learners have reached the intermediate or more advanced levels) than the memorising o f individual grammatical explanations. Some learners o f a foreign language are often capable o f generalising grammatical points, and as far as this generalisation successfully applies when constructing sentences, they will keep it as a yardstick in the process o f further learning. I have witnessed such learners who are capable o f abstracting what they have learnt at random, and o f applying it to new phenomena. It may or may not be correct, but their trial and error will eventually reach certain


U nderstanding Japanese

abstracts which eliminate certain phenomena as exceptions or throw them into different categories. However, this way o f learning is time consuming, and not every learner can afford to be devoted to such academic luxury. This book aims to introduce such thematic abstracts more concordant with real Japanese language phenomena. However, this book may somehow demand o f the reader understanding the meaning o f abstract concepts and some linguistic terminology, which may be frustrating at the beginning. I made my best efforts to explain them with ample examples in the text. Linguistic terminology is explained in the text, and its glossary is found in ‘To the Reader’ at the beginning o f this book. This Introduction will brief the abstracted concepts with figures and tables as precursor to explaining what the axioms mean and to presenting an overall picture o f each chapter. It should be noted, however, that the following brief­ ing dares to risk danger o f causing oversimplification o f the axioms. For example, the term 'speaker-oriented5(Chapter 2) explained below may be misinterpreted as ‘Japanese is constructed from the viewpoint o f a speaker’, which is over-generalisation or over-application o f the axiom since not every language construction follows this axiom. Each axiom has its limitations when applied to language phenomena. The text following this Introduction will detail the applicability o f the axioms including constraints on their usage and their exceptional cases.

Chapter 1:Japanese as a topic-comment language There are two main points in this chapter. The one is the status o f wa, and the other is how to deal with other particles which contribute to grammatical func­ tions in sentence structure. Wa does not concern itself with grammatical roles such as subject, object and complement. Wa functions pragmatically (i.e. providing the relation be­ tween language constructs and contexts where they occur), framing the fol­ lowing scene. When NP (= Noun Phrase) + wa occurs (normally at the beginning o f an utterance), the speaker aims to mention relevant items to the NP in



the subsequent clause. When framing occurs at a sentence level, NP + ■ is 过 topic and the rest o f the sentence is a comment on this topic. This is called a 'topic-commenf relationship. Framing also occurs at a discourse level (dis­ course = more than one sentence, which can be as large as a paragraph). At this level, the whole discourse may be equivalent to the comment o f the topic which was introduced at the beginning. The figure below shows the structure o f a ‘topic-comment’.

(the scene = clause, sentence, or discourse) There is another role of wa. When an item is compared with another, whether explicitly or implicitly, wa functions as a contrastive feature. At the same time, wa still tunctions as framing within the limited domain. Fbr example, as a macro structure, NPj + wa and NP2 + wa are contrasted with each other, but within each clause that NP + wa refers to, wa frames each clause. This is figured as follows. the clause framed by wa

the clause framed by wa

NP 丨 and NPっare contrasted


U nderstanding Japanese

Chapter 1 also focuses on other particles such as ga, o and ni which are called 'case markers9because they contribute to determining grammatical roles in a sentence (such as subject and object). It should be noted that there is no one-to-one relationship between a particle and a grammatical role. For example, gw often leads a linguistic unit to a subject role, but not vice versa. Also, ga does not always determine a linguistic unit as a subject. This means that ga is not in the one-to-one relationship with a subject. Throughout this book, the 'subject5is defined as an Agent (doer) of an action. Ni as well as ga, depending on the verb used in a given structure, may mark an NP as a subject. In the same way, o is not necessarily involved in building up an object (= a Patient of an action, or an undergoer); o may belong to something else (e.g. the emphasis o f a description), and ni can be an object marker. As explained in 1.6., these markers are interrelated; the subject may appoint ga or ni; the object may obtain o or ni; the complement (see below) may take ni or ga. The three particles form a circular system around the gram­ matical roles, subject, object and complement. This is summarised as follows.


ni Subject = an essential unit to build a sentence pattern, ftmctioning as the Agent (doer) of an action (verb). Object = an essential unit to build a sentence pattern, functioning as the Patient (undergoer) of an action (verb). Complement = an essential unit to build and complete a sentence pattern, apart from subject and object, (e.g. in ‘John is a student’, and ‘This chance made him rich’, ‘a student’ and ‘rich’ are the complement of each sentence.)



Chapter 2: Japanese as a speaker-oriented language This chapter examines how a sentence is structured in order to describe the speaker’s experience. The axiom ‘speaker-oriented’ means that when the speaker describes his/her experience, the sentence structure carries a certain feature which is conventionally determined. That is, the phenomenon is described with certain grammatical items (such as -kuru and passive forms), revealing the speaker’s constant viewpoint o f a phenomenon, and the treatment o f the person T (= experiencer) in relation to this viewpoint. In Japanese, the speaker^ viewpoint follows the experiencer T , and is seldom portrayed with the speaker away from the phenomenon. The speaker is entirely involved in the whole phenomenon where its object is described. This is quite contrastive with the English description. In describing the speaker’s experience, English sets up the speaker’s viewpoint separately from the person T (although in reality the former is identical with the latter). In other words, the speaker views the phe­ nomenon by placing himself/herself outside the experiencer (i.e. the person T ). It should be noted that the above viewpoint has nothing to do with objec­ tive or subjective descriptions o f phenomena. Emotional description occurs in every language, and it is manifested by, for example, subjective terms (such as terms o f emotions). The speaker's viewpoint in the Chapter does not concern the speaker^ state o f mind, but pertains to structural arrangements which are conventionally determined as a grammatical feature o f the language. Because in Japanese the speaker’s viewpoint in describing his/her own experience is integrated with the person T in the phenomenon, it is called the 'Integration type5which may be reinterpreted as tspeaker-oriented,. In Japa­ nese description, the speaker is the centre of the phenomenon, and as the posi­ tion o f the experiencer T moves, the viewpoint shifts with the experiencer. A typical example is the selection o f iku (to come) or kuru (to go). Iku is used when the object for description moves away from the speaker. The same verb is used when the speaker moves toward the object because from the speaker’s viewpoint, the person T takes the movement of ‘going’ ( or strictly speaking, the person T moves away from the place where the speaker’s viewpoint was


U nderstanding Japanese

initially set up). On the other hand, kuru is used when the object moves toward the speaker. This applies to physical as well as psychological movements of the object. In English, the verbs, ‘to come’ and ‘to go’, may be used in a similar way to Japanese counterparts. When the object moves toward the speaker, 4to come9 is used, which looks as if its movement were described from the speaker^ view. However, this is accidentally of the ‘Integration type’ due to the nature o f the verb, i.e. its deictic nature (deictic terms are interrelated with the situa­ tion where the speaker is placed). Directional verbs are not always used with the viewpoint fixed upon the speaker. They are relative and volatile, thus, not necessarily organised as a constant integration between the speaker’s view­ point and the person T . The above discussion is summarised as follows. The square box represents a phenomenon for description, and the arrow implies the speaker's way of observing a phenomenon. Japanese




The text will introduce the following items and explain how the Speaker^ view is involved in the use o f these items. • • • • • • • • •

locational terms the tense -ta V5+ -te-kureru (V? = the stem form of a verb) V* + -te-kuru emotive words V* + -te-ageru indirect passive forms iku and kuru omission of watashi ga/wa

The following figures summarise the above grammatical items. The arrow in the figure symbolises the direction of an object (whether a person, or a concrete /abstract object).

Q the speaker

passive forms kuru, -kuru, -kureru

-ageru,iku, -iku

〇 bj ectsfor

description the experiencer

Chapter 3: Japanese as a language of uchi and soto This chapter is the extension o f the axiom 'speaker-oriented, in Chapter 2. The speaker^ viewpoint, which focuses only on his/her own experience in Chapter 2 , is extended to other people who are socially or psychologically proximal to the speaker. First, the speaker scrutinises his/her social or psychological relationship with a third person for description. Second, depending on whether this person is considered to be the speaker^ uchi (inside) or soto (outside) member, a certain grammatical term is selected in structuring a sentence. The concept o f uchi encompasses a group of people who are close enough


U nderstanding Japanese

to the speaker to be treated as the same as the speaker. Closeness may occur for sociological (social uchi) or psychological (psychological uchi) reasons. Also, for rhetorical reasons (i.e. deictic uchi), the speaker may treat a third person as if the former were assimilated with the latter. The following table summarises the relation between the uchi/soto concept and the grammatical items introduced in the text. The table should read that a grammatical item is used to refer to a third person either as uchi or soto. For example, kenjoo (humble) styles are employed when the speaker describes a third person’s deeds and words, provided the latter is considered to be the speaker^ uchi member (in this particular case, a social uchi member).

Honorifics Demonstrative

Particle Information of Someone (*)

UCHI Kenjoo ko-tai Causative -te kureru ne direct form

SOTO Sonkei so-

OTHERS Bikago 3


yo Konnichiwa hear-say term

* Information of someone - means that when ‘someone’ is the speaker’s uchi member, the information of this person is described in a direct form. On the other hand, if the person is the speaker's soto member, the information about this person is described using hear-say terms such as -rashii (seem), da sooda (I hear). The above table is quite over-simplified, and should not be taken as a math­ ematical equation (e.g. kenjoo = uchi). First, a third person in description has to be scrutinised whether he/she should be judged as the speaker^ uchi member (serially, psychologically or deictically). Second, the judgement of uchi or soto



does not remain the same in every circumstance. Contexts where the speaker and the third person are placed count in the judgement. Therefore, the same person’s deeds and words may be treated as different in varying contexts. 丁hird^ the judgem ent o f uchi does not always invite the same grammatical item particularly in regard to the variability o f psychological uchi where the speaker’s psychological state varies at the time o f an utterance. Fourth, the above table ignores the distinction between social, psychological and deictic uchi. Also, this distinction may become obscure in actual use o f grammatical items. For example, family members are considered to be social uchi, but if the speaker uses honorifics toward them, they are temporarily treated as the speaker^ (psychological) soto. The most important point in this chapter is that language description depends on the speaker^ social, psychological and deictic (rhetoric) judge­ ments of people, and sentence structure in Japanese reveals how the speaker is related to them, what relation he/she has with them, and how they are treated in description. The key factor of such judgements lies in the distinction between uchi and soto.

Chapter 4: Japanese as an elliptic language This chapter examines the omission of units in structure. Broadly speaking, ‘ellipsis’ derives from language economy where what is understood will not be reiterated, and be omitted in the next context. However, phenomena o f ellipsis are not always faithful to tms principle o f economy because in many examples, ellipsis does not occur in spite of the reiteration of units. This chapter will explain what circumstances enable ellipsis to occur, and what constraints are posited on the occurrence and non-occurrence of ellipsis. The chapter explains two types o f omission o f units. The one is ttrue, ellipsis and the other is non-ellipsis though the omission of units occurs. Ellipsis refers to the omission of units which exist in abstract structure, but do not occur on the surface. In other words, ellipsis holds a slot to be filled, and yet does not manifest actual units in a particular context (grammatically speaking, syntactic


U nderstanding Japanese

units exist in structure, but they are not phonologically (e.g. as sounds) realised on the surface (e.g. in actual conversation)). For example, the omission of watashi wa/ga (I) in conversation is an elliptic case because sentences (normally) hold the slot for this grammatical subject, and can be realised in other contexts (e.g. when emphasising 'm yself *in contrast with others). On the other hand, non­ ellipsis, appearing to be elliptic, does not hold such a slot, and therefore, does not present units in any context, i.e. remains as is in every sentence. The above is summarised as follows. syntactic

Non-ellipsis (e.g. subjectless sentence, L/«ag/-sentence) Syntactic ellipsis means that units are omitted after they occurred in the prece­ dent clause (or sentence). In this case the elliptic clause (or sentence) is struc­ turally parallel to its precedent clause (or sentence). Some rules which give constraints on the occurrence o f syntactic ellipsis are introduced in the text. Pragmatic ellipsis means that units are omitted when participants in con­ versation mutually understand what is pointed out or when certain pragmatic (situational) information is already provided. Also, pragmatic ellipsis occurs when the speaker aims to achieve politeness by avoiding explicit expressions. This subsection will also introduce examples o f ellipsis o f personal pronouns and pragmatic constraints on their occurrence. Particularly because Japanese third person pronouns (e.g. kare, kanojo and karera) are socially restricted in use, they are not used in place o f proper nouns (e.g. John -► he). The text will explain when to use personal pronouns safely. The chapter introduces two exam ples o f non-ellipsis. The one is ‘subjectless’ sentences which exemplify sentences which are always presented as zero subject (Subjectless sentences mean that they occur as they are in whatever contexts, i.e. 'subjects9are not missing but do not exist in structure).



The other is the so-called ‘ひ《ag/-sentence’• ひ《agz-sentences are structured as 4NP + wa/ga -I- NP da?and its variations. The term unagi (eel) is credited to Okutsu (1978), who initiated the discussion of this sentence typein English, expressions such as ‘I’m coffee’ (to order coffee at a shop ), and T m on Thursday’ ( e.g. I am off duty on Thursday when other people are off on other days) are occasionally allowed to occur when interlocutors mutu­ ally understand their pragmatic situation. In a similar way, the L^ag/-sentence occurs when interlocutors mutually recognise situations where they are placed, whether the situations are given linguistically or extra-linguistically. The Unagi-SQntQncQ, however, occurs more frequently than those examples above in English. It is customary that the Unagi-SQntQncQ occurs whenever the speaker focuses on filling the information gap in utterances. This gap is created by linguistic or extra-linguistic contexts, and it is NPs in the Unagisentence which fill this gap. The Unagi-SQntQncQ has been traditionally treated as an elliptic sentence. Theoretical linguists have been interested in arguing how the Unagi-SQntQncQ should be reconstructed. However, this book posits the idea o f non-ellipsis, and focuses mainly on when the sentence type occurs and what pragmatic information enables it to occur. The text will exemplify every situation where the Unagi-SQntQncQ occurs.



TO THE READER -Glossary of linguistic terms-

This book is basically meant for readers who have no knowledge o f linguistics. The author has made efforts to avoid many technical terms and controversial issues in theoretical linguistics. However, in explaining the phenomena of Japa­ nese language, certain technical terms are inevitably introduced because these terms, once their dennitions are understood, will economise the discussion, and can offer compact and accurate explanations o f phenomena. Terms which appear only once in the book are explained when they are used. Those terms repeatedly used in the book are alphabetically listed in the following (The bold printed terms in this section are also indexed). Apart from linguistic terms, the following symbols which are used in the examples have a certain meaning. * (asterisk) - this symbol means Unacceptable5 or 'ungrammaticar. The sen­ tence with this symbol is not structured by native speakers of Japanese. ? (question mark) - The more question marks the sentence is given, the more unnatural it sounds. The question-marked sentence does not mean that it is judged as unacceptable, but is quite odd in real situation. - (hyphen) - this is inserted in romanised Japanese example sentences. It segments units into smallest meaningful units, called ‘morphological units.5 For example, kau-tsumori-desu has three morphological units ‘Verb + Modal + Polite’. Adjunct - Any element in a sentence that is not part of the basic sentence struc­ ture. For example, in 'John bought this camera at that shop yesterday5, 4at that shop* and 'yesterday9are not part of the basic structure, but adjuncts to the sentence. Agent - A noun or its equivalent playing a role of 'actor5of the verb, or being in an


U nderstanding Japanese

existential relationship with the verb. For example, 4John, is an Agent in 4John went to the theatre.’ Anaphora - The phenomena of a pervasive shorthand device which refers to a referent or concept in a previous context. Pronouns, elliptic elements (= zero pronouns or zero anaphora), and presumptive pronouns such as kono hito (this person) are typical examples of anaphora. When a referent occurs as a full noun (phrase), usually a proper noun, initially in a given context, it is usually referred to as a pronoun in a subsequent context. The referent which is connected with the pronoun is called an antecedent. Antecedent - A linguistic unit (word, phrase, clause or sentence) which occurs as an initial referent, and provides the clue to identify those units in subse­ quent contexts which are in the form of pronouns, zero pronouns, etc. For example, in Taroo wa roku-sai desu. (j) kyoo-kara yoochien m i/a-masu (Taro is 6 years old. (j) starts going to a kindergarten from today), 4 (j) 9 (zero anaphora) refers to Taroo, and this proper noun is the antecedent of the zero anaphor. Argument - Any syntactic unit required by a verb. For example, 4to take5requires two arguments as in ‘She took two apples’ in which ‘she, and ‘two apples’ are the arguments required by the verb to construct a basic sentence structure. Auxiliary - A grammatical term which accompanies verbs. For example, 'will5, ‘can’,‘have, and ‘have been, are English auxiliaries. Japanese auxiliaries are called jodooshi (helping-verbs) due to their subordinate status to verbs in grammar. For example, the word 似 /-ゴ arao (won’t buy) contains a verb and two auxiliaries. Basic sentence structure (form) - The structure which is built up around the verb with a limited number of arguments. The arguments are required with the verb to form the basic sentence. For example, ‘to buy, takes two arguments; a subject and an object, all of which constitute a basic sentence structure. It is a core or nuclear sentence which can be expanded by replacing a noun with a noun phrase/clause and/or by adding adjuncts. Case markers - Normally the term ‘case’ is used for an inflectional category, basically of nouns (e.g. ‘she - her’), determining their grammatical roles in



relation to other parts of a sentence. For example, contains a nomina­ tive case which provides this noun with a subject role in relation to the given verb in a sentence. In Japanese, an inflectional category of case does not exist; instead, particles play an equivalent role to cases, thus, called 'case markers’. Not every particle in Japanese is designated as case marker. For example, particles which occur at the end of a sentence, playing a role of 'interjec(shuujoshi) are not considered to be case markers. There are two types o f case markers in Japanese; major and minor. Major case markers are involved in forming a basic sentence form, i.e. they grammatically con­ tribute to this form as subject, object and complement. Minor case markers contribute to an adjunct to the basic sentence form. Clause - Part of a sentence which contains the basic sentence structure. For example, if-clause, when-clause are part of a sentence which contains a subject, a verb and other units around the verb. These clauses are called ‘subordinate clauses’ because they cannot exist on their own to form a sentence. On the other hand, 4it was not raining, in 'When we finished the party, it/vas not raining’ is called a ‘main clause’ because it is an independent clause, being capable of forming a sentence on its own. Comment - See ‘Topic & Comment’. Complement - One of arguments to form a basic sentence form. It is associated with ‘completing’ the action specified by a verb. For example, ‘a teacher in ‘I am a teacher’, ‘on the desk’ in ‘I put it on the desk’ are complements in each basic sentence form. Deixis (deictic) - The term referring to the features which pinpoint the temporal or locational characteristics of the situation at the time of an utterance. For example, 'here & there5and 'now & then, are deictic terms which are inter­ related with the situation where the speaker is placed; these terms do not refer to something inherent, but relative to the environment within which an utterance takes place. Discourse - a continuous string of linguistic units which constitute more than one sentence. It normally refers to the coherent succession of sentences both in spoken and written languages.


U nderstanding Japanese

Ellipsis - Omission of an argument of the basic sentence structure. In this book, omission of other linguistic units is not called 'ellipsis/ Ellipsis is classified as syntactic and pragmatic ellipses. The former is recoverable from a previous context which contains a parallel structure (as an antecedent) to the omitted unit. The latter may not fully or perfectly recover the original form because there may not be an antecedent, but hold slots yet to be filled in underlying structure. Extra-linguistic - Any feature other than linguistic units that contributes to understanding communication. For example, messages conveyed through situations and body language are examples of extra-linguistic properties. Features - Any distinctive property in grammar. Focus - In this book, ‘focus’ is used in contrast with ‘presupposition’ in dealing with the Unagi-SQntQncQ (4.3.2.). It refers to new information which is re­ quired by a pre-context, linguistically or extra-linguistically. It is the main part of the L^agz-sentence, either filling a gap created by the presupposition, or adding further information in line with the topic in the presupposition. For example, in the situation where interlocutors are placed at a restaurant, order­ ing a meal, the t/««gz-sentence such as Bokii wa unagi da (Eel for me.) con­ tains a focus unagi da which is required to be uttered by the presupposition (ordering a meal at a restaurant). Function - A term used in dealing with roles of a unit in linguistic structure. Grammatical functions refer to the role of a unit in structuring a larger unit; e.g. subject, object, and complement are grammatical functions in struc­ turing a basic sentence form. Grammatical- Grammar may include phonology (the study of the sound system of a language), syntax (the study of sentence structure), morphology (the study of word structure), semantics (the study of meaning), pragmatics (the study of language in relation to its user) and any other feature that contribute to the investigation of language systems, but the term ‘grammatical’ normally refers to syntactic and morphological aspects. For example, gram­ matical sentences mean that they are constructed by conforming to rules of the grammar of a given language.



Hierarchy - In this book, hierarchy is used only in terms of syntactic hierarchy (there are also semantic and morphological heirarchies). Syntactic hierarchy means that a group of words are considered to be self-contained and function as a cluster in a sentence structure, and they may be subordinate to other units, constituting different levels of sentence structure. For example, in John’s younger sister bought flowers which were on sale, John’s younger sister forms a cluster of words, and flowers which were on sale another cluster. Bought is an independent unit. Each of these three groups are selfcontained, and offer the first level of syntactic structure. A second (lower) level is the analysis of each group which offers other clusters of words. For example, in flowers which were on sale, flowers and the rest constitute two separate groups. Intransitive verbs - Verbs which carry only one argument (in the subject posi­ tion). Main clause - See 'Clause*. Morphology (morphological arrangement) - The study of word structure. Units which constitute a word are called morphological units. For example, the word, kawa-sa-re-nakat-ta (was not forced to buy something) contains 5 morphological units, verb, causative, passive, negator and past tense. Object - A grammatical category which refers to a certain syntactic relation between a verb and an argument. It often takes the role of a Patient for a given verb.。 often designates its NP as an object; however, an object does not always invite o to be attached to an NP. Patient - A noun or its equivalent playing a role of receiving an action. For example, ‘Mary’ in ‘John hugged Mary,’ is a Patient of the verb ‘to hug.’ Phonology-Thestudyofsoundsystem sofalanguage. Phrase - a chunk of syntactic units which form a self-contained category, excluding a clause and a sentence. For example, *a beautiful flower5consists of three words, forming a syntactic unit as a noun phrase. ‘Could have taken m 'John could have taken it* forms a verb phrase. In Japanese, verbs cannot form phrases because they combine with other units to form one word (i.e.


U nderstanding Japanese

morphological arrangement). For example, kawa-nakat-ta (did not buy) is one word with three morphological units (hyphens show morphological boundaries). Pragmatic meaning - The interpretation of an utterance, considering the situa­ tion where the utterance occurs. The semantic meaning offers more or less the literal meaning of a sentence whereas the pragmatic meanings of the same sentence can vary in different contexts. For example, the literal mean­ ing o f Do you have a knife? may not be employed when the speaker of this utterance wants to use a knife; its pragmatic meaning is Lend me one i f you have one. Swearwords have their own literal meanings, but the effect they give to the listener is a pragmatic meaning (e.g. insulting). Pragmatics - The study of the relation between language and language user. Prag­ matics investigates language from the viewpoint of the language user. It relates linguistic units with the context where they occur and/or extra-lin­ guistic contexts which may include sociological and psychological aspects of language phenomena. The Speaker^ view (Chapter 2) and the uchi/soto consciousness (Chapter 3) are typical examples of pragmatic features inter­ related with language phenomena. Presupposition - In this book, because this term is used only when referring to the Unagi-SQntQncQ (Chapter 4), it is used in a narrower sense. It is mutual knowledge between interlocutors which is established in a pre-context, linguistically or extra-linguistically. Pronoun - A grammatical term which refers to a substituted form of a noun (phrase). There are several types of pronoun in English; e.g. personal pronouns (she, he, they), demonstrative pronouns (that, this), reflexive pronouns (herself, nimself), indefinite pronouns (anybody, one), etc. Semantics _The study of meanings. The definition o f‘meaning, is quite controversial, and varies in different models. In this book, when ‘semantic meaning’ is mentioned, it refers to the literal interpretation of a sentence, which is distin­ guished from pragmatic meaning. It is also contrasted with grammatical meaning which examines features in morphology and syntax such as Past Tense and Plurality.



Sentence - A self-contained chunk of linguistic units organised by the grammar of a language. A sentence normally consists of at least ‘subject’ and ‘predi­ cate, even when they are elliptic on the surface. A sentence is the largest linguistic unit dealt with in syntax. (The) Speaker’s view - The term (with the capital1S’) used in this book which is similar to deixis, presenting a certain way the speaker views a phenomenon when describing it in linguistic terms. The difference between the Speaker's view and deixis is that the former is a conventionally fixed view whereby sentence structure in a language is always constructed in a certain way, whereas the latter is a volatile view which points out different locations, time and space, depending on speakers, and their situations. For the detail of the Speaker's view, see Chapter 2 (2.2.). Subject - A grammatical category which labels a certain syntactic relation between a verb and an argument. In Japanese, the subject position is normally marked by ga; however, not every ga-marked NP is a subject (See Chapter 1).In this book, the grammatical subject is basically interpreted as 4a referent which is an Agent of a given verb, being in the doing or being relationship with the verb/ However, as shown in 4 .3 .1 the subject and the Agent do not always refer to the same unit in a sentence. As the Agent is a doer or actor of an action, it refers to a semantic subject which should be differentiated from a grammatical subject. Subordinate clause - See 'Clause5. Syntax - The study of sentence structure. The study of grammatical relations between words, phrases and clauses. It includes word order, hierarchy, and grammatical roles such as subject, object and complement. Topic & Comment - Semantically the ‘topic’ is the person or thing about which something is said^ and the flirther statement made aboutthis person or thing is the ‘comment’. In this book, the grammar of Japanese refers to the topic of a referent marked by wa. Japanese is a topic-prominent language where NP + wa frames a scene which is set up as a topic, and the rest of a sentence (or the whole discourse) describes the topic as a comment. If the topiccomment relationship occurs within a sentence, this topic is called a sen-


U nderstanding Japanese

tence topic., If the relationship occurs at the discourse level, it is called a 'discourse topic.5In either way, Japanese topics are usually marked by wa. Transitive verbs - Verbs which carry two arguments, namely subject and object. Unacceptable - Even when a sentence is formed by following grammatical rules, it may be judged as inappropriate by native speakers, or may never be ut­ tered by them in reality. In this case, this sentence is considered to be unac­ ceptable. For example, Sensei, anata nojugyoo wa omoshiroi desu (Teacher, your lectures are interesting.) - this sentence is grammatically correct, but unacceptable for pragmatic reasons; first, anata (you) is a social taboo to be used for a senior; second, a judgemental statement on the senior^ profes­ sional work is not socially acceptable. In this book, unacceptable and un­ grammatical structures are marked with the asterisk * at the beginning of the structure. Underlying structure - The definition of this term varies according to different linguistic models (theories). In this book, underlying structure is defined as 4an abstract level of representation of a sentence structure/ which is in contrast with surface structure presenting linguistic units as they stand in reality. Underlying structure holds certain slots to be filled by units. For example, in 4John bought cakes, but Jane did not,5the latter clause omits some units, but its underlying structure carries the slots for predicate and object, which happen to be phonologically null. Ungrammatical- A linguistic unit (word, phrase, clause or sentence) which does not conform to the rules o f a given language is considered to be ungrammatical. Ungrammatical sentences are marked with the asterisk * at the beginning of each sentence. Utterance - Anything spoken in a particular context. Its interpretation depends on the context whether it is linguistic or extra-linguistic. Utterances may or may not be properly structured (may remain incomplete) for various reasons; the definition of 4utterance, does not discriminate any linguistic unit that occurs in reality whether or not it conforms to grammatical rules. Zero anaphora - In this book, zero anaphora refers to a phenomenon in Japanese that a referent, once introduced in a given context, is omitted in subsequent



contexts. This often occurs in a topic chain where the same referent is fo­ cused in the whole context. A topic chain means that zero anaphora continually occurs in the whole context as if it formed a chain.




The following abbreviations are used in the morphological gloss in the text. Acc - Accusative Caus - Causative (auxiliary) Conj - Conjunction Cop - Copula Hon - Honorification (such as honorific affix) M - Mood marker (sentence ending particles such as inteijections) Neg - Negation (auxiliary) Nom - Nominative Nomi - Nominaliser - usually marked by the particle no Pass - Passive (auxiliary) Pst - Past tense Prog - Progressive form which shows the actual progressive action or the completed action. The latter shows the continuation of the state after the completion of an action. Q - Question marker (ka is a particle to make a sentence a question) Tag - Tag question TE - the so-called 'te-form5which is inserted between the verb and the aspectual auxiliary (e.g. Vf + te-iru/aru - progressive form) or a certain auxiliary (e.g. V + te-kureru). Also TE combines two verbs to create a complex verb (e.g. de-te-iku - get out and go) Top - Topic marker - usually marked by the particle wa N.B.l. The so-called suru-werbs (Sino-Japanese words which accompany suru (do)), strictly speaking, may be considered to consist of two morphemes (e.g. benkyoo-suru (study + do). However, in the following examples, they are glossed as one morpheme for the convenience o f English translation.


U nderstanding Japanese

2. -n-da (or -no-da) - This form is the combination of Nominaliser, no, and da. Da here is not a copula as it does not function as a linking verb between two nominals. Its polite form is desu. It purports the speaker's explanatory tone (e.g. Densha ga okure-ta-n-desu. - (The reason why I was late was) the train came late.) Da here may be an auxiliary. However, in the following, this is glossed as ‘DA’ as its status is quite controversial. When desu occurs, it is glossed as 34Polite* only. 3. Auxilialies such as -rashii (seem), -daroo (perhaps), -sooda (I hear) etc. are not glossed as V’ + -mairu e.g. mi-te-ki-masu — > mi-te-mairi-masu (I will go and see it.) -suru verbs — > V’ + -itasu e.g. ryokooshi-masu — > ryokoo-itashi-masu iu (to say) — > moosu complex verbs with -iru — > V’ + -oru e.g. mi-te-i-masu — > mi-te-ori-masu (to be seeing) The verbs underlined in (3-4) cannot be categorised as either directional ((3-2) type) or task-based ((3-3) type). They are only situations or statements. How­ ever, they are part of k en jo o styles in modem Japanese, and are widely used in normal social interactions. Especially z o n ji a g eru (=to know) has nothing to do with the listener. The knowledge belongs to the speaker. The other percep­ tion or ability verbs are not kenjoo-m arkQ d; e.g. w a k a ru (= to understand), dekiru (=to be able to do), su k id a (=to like), iy a d a (=to be weary of), uresh ii (=

to be happy). Z o n jia g eru seems to be exceptional. Although in modem Japa­ nese zo n jia g e r u is a k e n jo o g o , I would consider that this originated from bikago.

One of the reasons for learners5confusion between verbs with and those without k en jo o styles is that some verbs are conventionally formed as k en jo o g o which are influenced by b ik a g o , while others cannot be fewyoo-marked.

There is no distinctive rule to differentiate verbs for k e n jo o or n o n -k e n jo o styles. The best way is to memorise k en jo o -m a rk ed verbs as in (3-4) as excep­ tions and the rest as rule-governed (directional/afTecting s o to members) as in (3-2).



333.2. Honorific prefixes o- and goThe so-called honorific prefixes o- and go- are concomitant with sonkei styles. They sometimes occur with kenjoo styles, but such prefixes are derived from bikago. Therefore, unless special environments such as service industry require bikago, normal interactions would not let honorific prefixes occur in describing the speaker and his/her uchi members9belongings, words, and deeds. For example, o-kuruma (car) must be 'your car5in normal social interactions (though o - here is optional as to its occurrence). On the other hand, the same word is quite frequently used in service industry whether the car belongs to the customer or the speaker’s company, aiming at some graceful and polite atmosphere. O- can occur with both Chinese-origin words, i.e. kango (?HIp ) (or kanji compounds with 洲 reading ( 音読み ) ) and those o f Japanese native origin, i.e. wago ( 和 語 ) . Go- occurs only with

职 except in a few cases such as

go-yukkuri (=please relax), and go-mottomo (=indeed). There are no rules governing which words receive honorific prefixes. It seems that prefixing is only a customary practice. For example, learners may apply their knowledge o f o-karada (=body) and o-kao (=face) to other parts of the body. But prefixation does not apply to kubi (=neck) or mune (=chest). Differences occur between men and women in honorific prefixation. Women tend to use honorific prefixes more often than men, due to the influence o f bikago. Honorific prefixation by women often depends on the inaividual. For myself, I would not say o-te (=hand), o-daidokoro (=kitchen), o-benkyoo (=study), but apparently many women do in everyday life. The National Language Research Centre (1992:72) gives some clues as to which words usually do not receive honorific prefixes, (comments stated in brackets by the author) (3-5) (1 )Loan words * o-mayoneezu (=mayonnaise), * o-chiizu (=cheese) (but, o-biiru (=beer), o-soosu (=sauce): women’s language)


U nderstanding Japanese

(2) Words which start with o* o-oosetsuma (=living room), * o-oomugi (=barley) (3) Long array of syllables in a word * o-ehagaki (=post card), * go-kaigai-ryokoo (=trip to overseas) (but go-ryokoo is acceptable.) (4) Words with a bad connotation * o-tsura (=face), * o-abata (=pimpled face) (5) Nature, mining terms, plants, colour, shapes, machines, organisations * o-kiku (chrysanthemum) (but o-hana (flower) is acceptable), * o-tetsu (=iron), * o-mori (=forest), * o-kiiro (=yellow), * go-kaisha (=company), * go-kenkyuushitsu (=office for research) (but go-kenkyuu (research) is acceptable.) Except the list in (3-5) as rule o f thumb, honorific prefixation cannot be systematically generalised. Honorific prefixes can be attached to adjectives, although their occur­ rence is optional in modem Japanese. Depending on the nature o f adjectives, some o f prefixes attached to adjectives are considered to be sonkei, and others are bikago. Personal attributes such as o-yasasashii (tender) and go-shinsetsuna (kind) are used to describe soto people. Other adjectives with honorific prefixes which describe the state of an object or condition tend to be part o f bikago (e.g. o-takai = expensive). Although adjectives with honorific prefixes do exist in reality, the reader may safely disregard this phenomenon as they are used much less frequently in modem Japanese. Exceptions occur when the speaker appreciates the other with gratifying words; e.g. Go-shinsetsu ni. (You are kind).

Formal styles

Formal styles are often found in honorific contexts. They are archaic or kango ( 漢 語 )expressions. Because the world o f honorifics indicates a distanced relationship, keeping interactants aloof, colloquial terms are not appropriate



in honorific contexts. (3-6) is the list of typical examples. (3-6) colloquial chotto naosu kono hito kotchi dotchi yoi/ii minasan mot-te-kuru kowareru

formal shooshoo (for a while) teiseisuru (to amend) kono kata (this person) kochira (this way) dochira (which) yoroshn (good, all right) (see the note below) minasama (everyone) jisansuru (to bring) hason sum (to be broken)

Note: yoroshii is used only in the form of questions or tentative suggestions. If it is used in an affirmative sentence, it sounds judgemental, which does not conform to the the honorific world.

Service industries use the following additional terms. (3-7)

■> wakari-kaneru (do not understand) wakara-nai sanmei-sama (three people) san-nin — go-riyoo-kudasai (please use/take something) tsukat-te-kudasai — >

There are also euphemistic usages which avoid direct and exact terms. The Japanese are not particularly comfortable with terms which directly refer to money and its related words unless the business accounts have to be clarified. Industries are careful enough not to give their customers the impression that they buy cheap or low quality products. For example, (3-8)

otegorona, o-motome yasui (* yasui) (=cheap) benkyoosa-se-te-itadaku (* yasukusuru) (=give discount) o-yuzuri-shi-masu (* urimasu) (=to sell: between individuals) motomeru (* kau) (=to buy)

3.3.4. The distinction between uchi and soto Honorifics vary in diflFerent social situations. They are not necessarily organised as such that one^ senior in age/status always receives so n k e i styles while one


U nderstanding Japanese

uses kenjoo styles about oneself. If a person receives sonkei styles in every situation, such keigo is called absolute

をo (絶対敬語= 沈to /

In the world of absolute

をo different

situations do not alter honorific styles. The same honorific styles are used for the same person wherever the speaker is situated. Such keigo styles prevailed in old Japanese. Particularly up to the end o f the Heian period (until 1191 AD), aristocrats used sonkeigo even about themselves in front o f lower status people (自 称 尊敬語:力57^0 奶

Kasuga 1977:123). Because of the strong

consciousness o f social rank, old keigo styles were organised according to impartial judgements o f social statuses and tamily backgrounds. Particular keigo styles referred to a particular person in every context (e.g. the supreme keigo for the emperor/empress and his/her family members). This enabled the sentence without a subject in structure to identity its subject. Often in litera­ ture, there is no explicit subject in an entire discourse, and yet the subject can be retrieved by recognising a certain keigo style. This is what Fujii (1991) calls 'implicit subject5. She gives examples in which two noble people with different social ranks are described by using a higher keigo for the higher ranked person and a lower Keigo for the lower. The entire context does not specify the gram­ matical subjects, and yet honorifics indicate who is referred to. In modem Japanese, on the other hand, although social status is still taken into consideration, keigo styles shift as the speaker^ situation changes; thus, the same person receives different honorific styles in different contexts where the speaker is situated. Various social settings determine the borderline of uchi, which induces a certain fe/go style. In other words, modem fc/go are relative, situation-oriented, and/or dependent on the speaker^ psychological state. In modem Japanese, absolute keigo are found only in the language towards the emperor and empress. The Crown Prince, Hironomiya, at a press confer­ ence, referred to his parents by using sonkei styles even though they are his absolute uchi members. Except for the environment o f the Royal family, modern Japanese does not allow absolute keigo to occur unless a special intention is made (e.g. joke or sarcasm).



Let us think about our everyday life. What sort o f social interactions are expected to occur once we step outside the house? Readers may belong to an institution where they are learning Japanese. Some may work in a company. Educational institutions and companies are the places to which one belongs. Let us call this situation 'organisation9. Organisations include work places, educational institutes and social groups which issue memberships. Apart from interactions with people in relation to their organisations, we have other social encounters. We may meet new people at a party, or strangers in the street. You may see your GP if you have some concern about your health. Enquiries may be made to strangers for information at the train station, buying a ticket, or inquiring at a governmental office. Also, you may meet older people who you know well as your neighbours. In contrast with ‘organisation’, these encounters are ‘individual experiences’. The organisation one belongs to will provide an opportunity that one, as the representative of one’s organisation, deals with, for instance, business matters with the other organisation. On the other hand, the individuaPs social encounters consider only individual experiences with other individuals. K e ig o

styles occur differently in the two social contexts: organisational

and individual. The reason for this classification is that organisational s o to

u c h i/

distinction may comprise two different situations (i.e. two borderlines


u ch i

and s o t o ) where the speaker has to use different

k e ig o


about the same person, whereas the individual experience offers only one bor­ derline between

u ch i

and s o to .

Figures 3.1 and 3.2 show the distinction between

u ch i

and s o to . Figure

3.1 depicts the case o f an individual experience and Figure 3.2 that o f an organisational experience. The vertical lines indicate the borderline between u ch i

and s o to . As has already been discussed,

s o to

receives s o n k e i styles (Also, note that k e n jo o styles are limited to describ­

ing the speaker^

u ch i

u ch i

receives k e n jo o styles and

members, behaviours directed toward s o to members).


U nderstanding Japanese

Figure 3.1 Individual vs.

soto ♦ friends in public situations ♦ strangers ♦ neighbours, acquaintances senior to the speaker Speaker

♦ meeting new people



Figure 3.2 Organisation vs.

soto (B)

♦ other companies

♦ visitors to the Speaker’s company

> Extension o f UCHI



*Speaker = This speaker is situated facing other company people or visitors to his/her company. The speaker acts as the representative of his/her company.



In Figure 3.1, when the speaker as an individual encounters people outside the household, she/he and her/his family members are uchi members and the others are soto members (e.g. strangers, neighbours and acquaintances who are senior to the speaker, and new friends. Also, friends in public situations are included in this category). Although the speaker does not use honorifics towards his/her friends of the same age group (absolute uchi members), they are not considered to be his/her uchi in relation to the usage of kenjoo styles. In other words, if they are a topic in conversation, they are not treated as the speaker's uchi members. Close friends in Figure 3.1 remain in the neutral position, i.e. they are referred to with neutral expressions (desu/masu forms). However, if the speaker and his/her close friends are situated in a public place, for instance, in the media, in the meeting, they are expected to use certain honorifics. Let us look at some examples. (3-9) to strangers ちょっとお尋ねしますが、 この辺に文房具店はありませんか。

Chotto o-tazune-shi-masu ga, kono hen ni a little Hon-ask-(Hon)-Polite Conj this around at bunboogu-ten wa ari-mase-n ka. stationary-shop Top exist-Polite-Neg Q (Excuse me, may I ask you whether there is a stationary shop around here?) o-tazune-suru - kenjoo: the speaker's action toward the soto person should be described in a kenjoo style. (3-10) to an older person who is not an absolute uchi member もう少しお休みになってはいかがですか。

Moo sukoshi o-vasumi-ninat-tewa ikaga-desu ka. more a little Hon-rest-(Hon)-Conj how about (Hon)-Polite Q (Why don’t you have some more rest?) o-yasumi-ni-naru - sonkei: the listener (soto) will have rest.


U nderstanding Japanese

(3-11) enquiry 先生、 どうも具合が悪いんですが、みていただけますか。

Sensei, doomo guai ga warui-n-desu ga, doctor somehow condition Nom bad-Nomi-Polite Conj mi-te-itadak-e-masu lea. check-TE-(receive: Hon)-can-Polite Q (Doctor, I don’t feel very well. Could you please take a look at me?) -itadaku - kenjoo: -morau (to receive) is the speaker's acceptance from soto. -itadaku is the kenjoo form of -moraru. (3-12) public place A :他 に 何 か ご質問は ございませんか。 B :あのう、 コメントでもよろしいでしようか。 A: Hokam nanika go-shitsumon wa gozm-masc-ri ka. else something Hon-question Top have(Hon)-Polite-Neg Q B: Anoo, komento demo voroshi卜desh-oo ka. excuse me comment even good(Hon)-Cop(Polite)-assume Q Do you have any other question? B: Excuse me, would comments be all right?) go-shitsumon - sonkei: soto peopled opinions should be sonkei-ioxmQd. gozai-mas-en ka - bikago, yoroshii-desh-oo ka - formal style The public place in (3-12) means that even close friends who do not use honorifics between themselves would use honorifics to each other if they are situated in a public place such as a meeting. Figure 3.2 is more complicated. There are two vertical lines, (A) and (B). The borderline (A) is the distinction between the speaker & his/her family members and his/her senior members (in age/status) in the same organisation. The uchi members include only the speaker's family members (which is indicated by a smaller circle in Figure 3.2). The speaker's friends and close neighbours do not receive kenjoo styles. They remain in the neutral position, receiving only masu/desu forms (unless a public situation is given as mentioned earlier). The relationships indicated by the borderline (A) also include educa­



tional (teacher - student) situations. If a student is a speaker, he/she and his/her family members are uchi members, and his/her teachers are soto people. Let us look at some examples. (3-13) educational environment 先生、母がお会いしてご相談したい事があると申しております。

sensei, haha ga o-ai-shi-te. go-soodanshi-tai koto teacher mother Nom Hon-see-(Hon)-Conj Hon-consult-want-thing ga aru to mooshi-te-ori-masu. Nom have Quote say(Hon)-TE-Prog(Hon)-Polite (Ms/Mr, my mother is saying she would like to see you, and there is something she would like to talk with you about.) o-ai-suru & go-soodan-suru - kenjoo: the action of the speaker's uchi

member mooshi-te-ori-masu - bikago

(3-14) professional situation 田 中 社 長 が 今 日 五 時 に お 出 で く だ さ い とお っ し ゃ っ て ま し た よ。

Tanaka shachoo ga kyoo go-ji ni oide-kudasai 丁anaka president Nom today 5-o’clock at come(Hon)-please to osshat-te-mashi-ta yo. Quote say(Hon)-TE-Polite-Pst M (President Tanaka said that you should go to see (him) at 5 o’clock today.) o-ide-kudasai - sonkei\ the listener's action osshat-te-mashi-ta - sonkei: President Tanaka's statement

The status differences between the three people in (3-14) is: Speaker < Listener < President Tanaka (a くb: ‘a’ is lower in status than ‘b ’ ) In this situation, Listener and Tanaka are dealt with as the speaker s so to members. Their words and deeds are, therefore, sonkei-marked. If the status order is Listener く Speaker く President, the same message is expressed as:


U nderstanding Japanese

(3 -1 5 ) 田 中 社 長 が 今 日 五 時 に 来 て く れ とお っ し ゃ っ て た よ。 Tanaka shachoo ga kyoo go-ji ni kite-kure to Tanaka president Nom today 5-o’clock at come-Order Quote osshat-te-ta yo. say(Hon)-TE-Pst M (President Tanaka said that (you should) go and see (him) at five o'clock today.) The speaker drops honorifics which are actions o f or directed towards the listener, while maintaining sonkei go for Tanaka's word {ossharu). Also, polite forms masu/desu are deleted because they are directed to the listener. When the speaker is situated in a context where she/he steps outside her/his organisation, and interacts with someone from another organisation, the borderline o f uchi is extended to (B) as in Figure 3.2. This means that the speaker^ uchi members include members o f his/her organisation as well as his/her family members (which is indicated by a bigger circle in Figure 3.2). Therefore, these uchi members should be referred to as if they were the speaker^ absolute uchi members. In other words, their deeds are expressed in kenjoo styles provided they are directed towards the listener or task-based. The listener and all the members o f his/her organisation should be referred to in sonkei styles. The status difference between uchi members with the borderline (B) is revealed only in the form o f causatives. (3-16) * こ れ を う ち の 社 長 に や ら せ ま す 0 * Kore o uchi no shachoo ni vara-se-masu. this Acc inside of president to do-Caus-Polite (I will make our President do this.) (3 -1 7 )これをうちの社長にやってもらいます。 Kore 〇 uchi no shachoo ni vat-te-morai-masu. this Acc inside of president to do-TE-(ask)-Polite (I will ask our President to do this.) The causative form cannot apply to the speaker's senior/higher-status member.





Therefore, (3-16) is not appropriate (a further discussion on the usage of causatives is made in sub-section 3.7.). The same principle applies to senior members o f the speaker’s family. This is shown in the following examples, where the causative form is not appropriate as in (3-18), and -te-moraru must be used as shown in (3-19). (3-18) * 母 に 明 日 来 さ せ ま す 。 * Haha ni ashita ko-sasc-masu. mother to tomorrow come-Caus-Polite (I will make my mother come tomorrow.) (3 -1 9 )母に明日来てもらいます。 Haha ni ashita ki-te-morai-masu. mother to tomorrow come-TE-(ask)-Polite (I will ask my mother to come tomorrow.) The borderline (B) in Figure 3.2 does not apply to interactions between members o f educational organisations. Within the same educational environ­ ment, a professor receives sonkei styles and his junior staff use kenjoo styles about themselves. However, the same system continues even when the repre­ sentative from a different organisation takes part in the interaction. For example, (3-20) A : も し も し 、 あ の う 、 田 中 教 授 は い ら っ し ゃ い ま す か 。 B :申し訳ございません。教授は今授業中でいらっしゃいます。 三時にはお戻りになりますので、そのころもう一度お電話いた だけますか。

A: Moshimoshi, anoo, Tanaka Kyooju wa hello excuse me Tanaka professor Top irasshai-masu ka. be available(Hon)-Polite Q B: Mooshiwake-gozai-mase-n. Kyooju wa ima jugyoo chuu de sorry (Hon) professor Top now class middle irasshai-masu. San-ji niwa o-modori-ni-nari-masu node, Prog(Hon)-Polite 3-o’clock by Hon-retum-(Hon)-Polite Conj sonokoro moo ichido o-denwa itadak-e-masu ka. that time again once Hon-phone receive (Hon)-can-Polite Q


U nderstanding Japanese

(A: Hello, would Prof Tanaka be available? B: Sorry, he is teaching now. He will be back at 3 o'clock. So, perhaps you could call around that time again?) The underlined keigo show that the professor^ deeds are described in the sonkei style even though the speaker and the professor belong to the same organisation, (while the listener (Person A) is a visitor to the university). At the same time, the speaker uses sonkei go to the visitor, too. This means that the speaker treats both the professor and the visitor as his/her soto people. The distinction (B) in Figure 3.2, therefore, applies only to commercial organisations in the pursuit o f profits. Commercial organisations are situated in the honorific world with the distinction (B). Educational organisations are not. They remain in the world with the borderline (A). This is generalised in Figure 3.3. Figure 3.3 Educational organisations

Seniors Other educational organisations Speaker UCHI


Figure 3.3 shows that the speaker uses honorifics to visitors, and about his/ her senior staff members in interaction with visitors. Needless to say, the speaker uses honorifics to his/her senior staff members, too. Same-status members in an organisation do not use honorifics to one another in interactions. At most, desu/masu forms may be used, depending on their psychological closeness. When the speaker’s colleagues are topicalised in interaction with his/her seniors, they should be referred to in neutral forms. It is a common error that learners apply the principle of absolute uchi membership (i.e. no honorifics used among them) by analogy to interactions with the speaker^



senior members where his/her friends/colleagues are topicalised.

(3-21)先 生 、 吉 川 さ ん は 今 日 休 む と 言 っ て い ま し た 。 Sensei, Yoshikawa-san wa kyoo yasumu to teacher Yoshikawa Top today be absent Quote it-te-i-mashi-ta. say-TE-Prog-Polite-Pst (Ms/Mr, Yoshikawa-san said that she would be absent today.)

(3-22)社 長 、 実 は 同 じ 課 の 田 中 君 も こ の プ ロ ジ ェ ク ト に 参 加 し た い と 言ってました。

Shachoo, jitsuwa onaji ka no Tanaka-kun mo kono president in fact same section of Tanaka too this purojekuto ni sankashi-tai to it-te-mashi-ta. project to join-want Quote say-TE-Polite-Pst (Sir, Mr Tanaka in my section was also saying that he wants to join this project.) As the examples above show, a topic person o f the same level/status as the speaker, is referred to in a neutral form. Yoshikawa and Tanaka should not be treated as the same as the speaker^ family members when they are topicalised in interaction (thus, mooshi-te-i-mashi-ta (kenjoo style) is wrong).

3.3.5. Politeness strategies in Japanese This subsection focuses on politeness strategies. Language strategies in general mean that they are a cultural phenomenon which encompasses social norms and values to achieve a certain target in communication. These strategies entail how the Japanese linguistically interact with one another, and virtually explain what has been socio-psychologically inherited and is instilled in the Japanese mind. While individual differences are admitted, certain language strategies are shared and taken for granted in Japanese society. Politeness strategies are one of these language strategies. We have seen honorifics concerning their social concept, forms and usages in different social situations. However, perfectly constructed honorifics will


U nderstanding Japanese

not be necessarily accepted by the society. Appropriate strategies which co-exist with honorifics should be fully fledged. In other words, politeness strategies are Japanese customary ways o f achieving successful communications in the world o f honorifics. Honorifics without such strategies will be often considered to be offensive because honorifics alone cause reverse effects (e.g. sarcasm, indirect demanding, or even arrogance). In the following, I introduce several strategies which are concomitant with honorifics. They are based on leamers, common errors, mainly stemming from the adoption of English language strategies.

[1】 If excuses should be given, apologies come first. Brown and Levinson (1987: hereafter 4B & U )list politeness strategies which they declare universal. However, many of them are not acceptable in the world o f honorifics. For example, consider their Strategy 13 o f positive strategies: ‘Give (or ask for) reasons’ (p i28). In English speaking societies, including the listener in the activity is one of felicitous strategies to save his/her face, thus to be polite to him/her. To include the listener in the activity, the speaker has to give reasons as to why what is wanted is wanted. B & L say that “giving reasons is a way o f implying ‘I can help you.’ or 4You can help me.’, and assuming cooperation is a way o f showing what help is needed, (ibid: 128). Although the Japanese may ‘give reasons’ in contexts o f complicated or sensitive issues, it is customary to apologise first even when the speaker did not make any mistakes. This occurs more frequently when the junior/inferior are interacting with the superior/senior. My personal experience in Britain and Australia is that I have never encountered ‘apologies’ from banks and companies which may have to take official responsibilities. Even when they obviously made a mistake, I, as a customer, have never received a formal apology. While personal interac­ tions may have words o f apology, interactions with organisations seem to have a different culture. On the other hand, in Japanese society where apolo­ gies may not necessarily lead to a legal responsibility, banks, hotels and other



service industries readily apologise for the inconvenience they caused to their customers (even when the customers are wrong or misbehave). Let us look at an example. One of common statements by learners to their teacher is: (3 -2 3 )? ? ? 先 生 、 先 週 ず っ と お 電 話 し て た ん で す が 、 いつもいら っ し ゃ らなかったのでこんなに遅くなりました。

??? Sensei, sen-shuu zutto o-denwashi-te-ta-n-desu ga, teacher last-week all the time Hon-phone-TE-Pst-Nomi-Polite Conj irasshara-nakat-ta-node konnani osoku-nan-mashi-ta. be available(Hon)-Neg-Pst-Conj such delay-becx)me-Polite-Pst (Ms/Mr, I tried to contact you many times last week, but you were not available. So, (I) was late (in submitting this).) (3-23) is grammatically perfect, and honorification is correct on the surface. However, this utterance is not appropriate from the strategic view. If an excuse like (3-23) is to be given, an apology or its equivalent must be prefaced. Thus, (3-23) must be rephrased as (3-24). (3 -2 4 ) 申 し 訳 あ り ま せ ん 、 こ ん な に 遅 く な り ま し て 。 実 は 、 先 週 ず っ と お電話してたんですが、、、

Mooshiwake-ari-mase-n, konnani osoku-nari-mashi-te. sorry (Hon) such delay-become-Polite-Conj Jitsuwa, sen-shuu zutto o-denwashi-te-ta-n-desu ga,— in fact last-week all the time Hon-phone-TE-Pst-Nomi-Polite Conj ((1) am sorry, (I) am late (in submitting this). Actually,⑴ phoned (you) up continuously last week,...) Statements such as ‘You were not available.’ may be somehow impolite in English. The assumption about the other’s availability should be avoided in Japanese, too. In general, the giving o f reasons in apology situations needs special care. The reader can interpret words o f apology in Japanese as being sorry for whatever inconvenience I (or someone socially proximal to me) have caused you’ rather than as ‘admitting my mistake or fault’.


U nderstanding Japanese

[2] When cancelling or postponing appointments, excuses such as 'busy' should be avoided. Terms such as ‘busy’ ‘bad’ or their equivalents should be avoided in re­ arranging an appointment. I often advise the class that ‘it goes without saying that everybody is busy, so do not say that you are/ Thus, the examples in (325) are not appropriate. Their alternatives are suggested in (3-26). (3-25) * 今 週 は 忙 し い の で 、 、 、 * Kon-shuu wa isogashii-node... this-week Top busy-Conj (I am busy this week.)

*そ の 時 間 は 都 合 が 悪 い ん で す が 、 、 、 * Sono jikan wa tsugoo ga warui-n-desu ga... that time Top convenience Nom bad-Nomi-Polite Conj (That time is inconvenient for me.) (3 -2 6 )今 週 は 予 定 が い っ ぱ い で し て 、 、 、 Kon-shuu wa yotei ga ippai-deshi-te." this-week Top schedule Nom full-Polite-Conj (My schedule is full this week.) 水曜日は難しいですが、、木曜日はいかがでしょう。

Suiyoobi wa muzukashii-desu ga... mokuyoobi Wednesday Top difficult-Polite Conj Thursday

wa Top

ikaga-desh-oo. how about-Polite-assume (It is difficult on Wednesday... How about Thursday?) 水曜日は都合がつきにくいので、、

Suiyoobi wa tsugoo ga tsuki-nikui-node... Wednesday Top convenience Nom get-difficult-Conj (It is hard to get Wednesday,...) The examples in (3-26) sound as if something which one cannot control for oneself hampered the appointment, i.e. it is beyond one^ power. This is prefer­ able to statements which directly refer to one^ busy schedule, or to one's personal convenience.




A void statem en ts w h ich p re su p p o se th e o th e r's w a n ts an d

This strategy entirely opposes B & Us Strategy 9 of positive strategies: 'Assert or presuppose S’s knowledge o f and concern for H ’s wants ,(1987:125). In English, this strategy implies that it is one’s kindness and consideration to verbalise one’s understanding o f the other’s wants/needs. This will maximise the other’s cooperation by clarifying what one could do for the other. The Japanese, on the other hanci first assume their interactant’s wants/needs, which will be either realised in their actual deeds, or linguistically expressed in suggestive forms. Therefore, it is not appropriate to directly verbalise the other’s wants/needs in Japanese. The underlined units in the following are not appro­ priate for Japanese strategies. (3-27)

* 空港にお着きになってもタクシーを呼ばなくてもよろしいです 了 。お迎えにいきますから。

* Kuukoo ni o-tsuki-ni-nat-temo takushii o airport at Hon-arrive-(Hon)-(Hon)-Conj taxi Acc voba-naku-temo voroshii desu vo. call-Neg-Conj good Polite M O-mukae-ni-iki-masu kara. Hon-pick up-(Hon)-(Hon)-go-Polite Conj (If you arrive at the airport, you do not have to call a taxi. I will come and pick you up.) ------- > Do not describe what you assume the other will do. Mention what you could do for the other. * おなかがお空きになりませんか。 * Qnaka ga o-suki-ni-nari-mase-n ka. stomach Nom Hon-empty-(Hon)-(Hon)-Polite-Neg Q (Aren’t you hungry?) ------- > Do not state what may be happening to the other even in a question form. Mention only what can be suggested. * 明日、 なにもなさらないのでしたを、浅草へご一緒にいらっ しゃいませんか。


U nderstanding Japanese

* Asu, nanimo nasara-nai-no-deshi-tara. tomorrow anything do(Hon)-Neg-Nomi-Polite-Conj asakusa e go-isshoni irasshai-mase-n Asakusa to Hon-together go(Hon)-Polite-Neg

ka. Q

(If you are not doing anything tomorrow, would you like to go to Asakusa with me?) ------- > Do not describe what the other does or does not do. Mention only what you offer. The examples above should be re-phrased as follows.

(3-28)空 港 に お 迎 え に ま い り ま す 。 Kuukoo ni o-mukae-ni-mairi-masu. airport to Hon-pick up-(Hon)-(Hon)-come(Hon)-Polite ((1) will come to the airport to pick (you) up.) もうそろそろお昼ですね。 ご昼食になさいますか。

Moo sorosoro o-hiru desu ne already around Hon-noon Polite M Go-chuushoku ni nasai-masu ka. Hon-lunch on decide(Hon)-Polite Q (It is almost noon. Would you like lunch?) よろしかったら、浅草へご一緒にいらっしゃいませんか。

Yoroshikat-tara, asakusa e go-ishhoni irasshai-mase-n ka. ifyou like (Hon) Asakusa to Hon-together go(Hon)-Polite-Neg Q (If you like, would you like to go to Asakusa with me?)

[4] Be dependent in asking a favour In this strategy, amae (dependence) is the main quality to be found in honorific expressions. 'Being dependent on others1is a feature quite alien to Westerners who place value upon individualism. As a competent adult member o f the society, a Westerner is expected to be socially independent. Social indepen­ dence makes one reluctant to seek others4*9help or to rely on others. In extreme cases one may decline to accept help from or to be under an obligation to others. Therefore, asking a favour is intrinsically a face-threatening act (FTA:



B & L’s term). FTAs impose the speaker’s wish upon the hearer. Politeness in Western society partly aims to avoid such an imposition as much as possible. This is the very reason why B & L focus on strategies which strive to minimise the risk o f FTAs. Requests are a typical example o f an FTA. They are expressed in forms such as ‘Could you please."?’. ‘Could’ implies one’s enquiry o f the other’s capacity to accept one’s request and pursue it. Although the aim is a ‘request’, the language structure itself implies one stage before the request, namely the attempt to understand the hearer^ extent of readiness to cooperate despite the face-threatening act. On the other hand, the Japanese may impose an FTA by using amae (dependence). This by no means implies that one can ask any favour. The psychological effectiveness o f requests is probably similar between the two societies. However, language strategies differ. While English structure takes two steps to ask a favour by giving a preliminary option to the listener, Japanese takes a direct path to achieve the same. Yoroshiku onegai shimasu is a common phrase employed in asking a favour. But the form itself means 'Please look after me.? or 'Please think well o f me.5This is a typical example o f the lan­ guage o f amae. Matsumoto (1990), in this respect, argues against B & Us concept o f FTAs. She asserts that amae is a key factor in Japanese society employed in anticipation of receiving a favour from the listener, which directly violates the rule of FTAs. If learners of Japanese realise that English politeness is based on reciprocal approaches between equal individuals, they can apply this approach analogi­ cally to Japanese politeness. The balance in Japanese politeness is made by the acknowledgment that one can be dependent on the other if one uses appropri­ ate honorifics. Honorifics evidence the recognition o f one^ social position in relation to the other. Once this evidence is presented^ one’s obligation to the other is extended no further. In turn, the other who accepts the evidence is responsible for one’s dependence. Let us look at common errors in this strategy.


U nderstanding Japanese

(3-29) * 先 生 、 時 間 を 少 し さ い て い た だ い て 推 薦 状 を 書 い て い た だ き た いんですが。

* Sensei, jikan o sukoshi sai-te-itadai-te teacher time Acc a little spare- i'E-( receive :Hon)-Conj suisenjoo o kai-te-itadaki-tai-n-desu ga... reference Acc write-TE-(receive:Hon)-want-Nomi-Polite Conj (Ms/Mr, could you please spare some time to write a reference for me?) In Englisn, it is considered to be polite to elucidate the extent of a favour one is asking. This may be the reason why the above underlined is expressed in (3-29). As Strategy [3] illustrates, Japanese politeness does not allow expressions o f the assuming or acknowledging the listener’s wants/needs. In a similar way, Strategy [4] does not allow one to express an assumption o f the extent the other has to do in order to satisfy one’s needs. The English politeness strategy where one has to minimise the imposition by stating 'spending a little time5in fact violates the rules o f dependence strategies in Japanese. The speaker has to ask a favour directly without referring to the listener^ consequent behaviours. Thus, (3-29) should be uttered without the phrase underlined. In a similar way, (3-30) should be rephrased as (3-31). (3-30) *

田中さんにちょっと丸ノ内まで来ていただいて、商品の鑑定を していただきたいんですが。

* Tanaka-san ni chotto mananouchi made ki-te-itadai-te, Tanaka by a little Marunouchi to come-TE-(receive:Hon)-Conj shoohin no kantei o shi-te-itadaki-tai-n-desu ga... produce of examine Acc do-TE-(receive:Hon)-want-Nomi-Polite Conj (Tanaka-san, could you please come to Marunouchi just for a while and examine the quality of the products?) (3 -3 1 )田中さん、商品の鑑定をお願いできますか。 は あ 、 あ 、 弓丨き受けてくださいますか。 あ り が と う ご ざ い ま す 。 それで、丸ノ内なんですが、そこまでおいで下さいますか。

Tanaka-san, shoohin no kantei o onegai-deki-masu ka. Tanaka product of examination Acc request-can-Polite Q



Haa, a, hikiuke-te-kudasai-masu ka. Arigatoo-gozai-masu. Yes ah accept-TE-(give:Hon)-Polite Q thank you (Hon) Sorede, marunouchi na-n-desu ga, soko made then Marunouchi DA-Nomi-Polite Conj there to oide-kudasai-masu ka. come(Hon)-(give-Hon)-Polite Q (Tanaka-san, would you please examine the quality of the products? Oh, you will. Thank you. Then, ( i f s ) in Marunouchi... Could you please come to that place?) Once a favour is accepted, the speaker is allowed to trust that the listener will pursue it unconditionally. How it is conducted is left to the listener, and is not the speaker’s concern any longer. Note that (3-31) discloses the details o f the request only after what the speaker wants is granted. Amae is also embodied in expressions such as: (3 -3 2 ) ご 相 談 し た い こ と が あ り ま し て 、 、 Go-soodanshi-tai koto ga ari-mashi-te... Hon-consult-want thing Nom have-Polite-Conj (I have something to talk about with you.) but n o t : * 申 し 上 げ た い こ と が あ り ま し て 、 、 * Mooshi-age-tai koto ga ari-mashi-te... say(Hon)-up-want thing Nom have-Polite-Conj (I have something to tell you.) Even if the content o f the speaker’s statement may be a form o f complaints, linguistically she/he is expected to express it in a consultative way. In (3-32) mooshi agetai (want to tell) connotes that the speaker socially stands at the same level as the listener, declaring the speaker^ request to the listener. What­ ever the content o f 'something to talk about7may be, the speaker is expected to express amae as a social strategy. Therefore, gosoodan shitai (want to consult) is more appropriate.5

[5] Polite imperative forms are used to state a rule/regulation 0 0 : suggestion benencial to the listener.


U nderstanding Japanese

This is not a strategy but rather a warning to over-sensitivity to honorifics. Honorifics do not mean that the speaker always obeys, or gives options to the other. The speaker has to use a polite imperative form (-te kudasai) if she/he explains a public rule or a regulation o f her/his organisation, or if she/he suggests something benefitial to the listener. For example, (3-33)

Offering a seat at an interview

*す わ っ て い た だ け ま せ ん か 。 * Suwat-te-itadak-e-mase-n ka. sit-TE-(receive:Hon)-can-Polite-Neg Q (Could you please sit down?) This should be uttered as: すわって下さい〇 o r おすわり下さい0 Suwat-te-kudasai. or Osuwari-kudasai. sit-TE-please Hon-sit-please (Please sit down.)

Stating a schedule bv the guide

*六 時 ま で に こ こ に お 集 り く だ さ い ま せ ん か 。 * Roku-ji madeni koko ni o-atsumari-kudasai-mase-n ka. 6~o’clock by this place at Hon-gather~(give:Hon)~Polite-Neg Q (Couldn’t you please come back here by 6 o’clock?) This should be changed to: 六時までにここにお集りください。

Roku-ji madeni koko ni o-atsumari-kudasai. 6-o’clock by this place at Hon-gather-please (Please come back here by 6 o’clock.)*

*スーツケースの中を拝見させていただけませんか。 * Suutsukeesu no naka o suitcase of inside Acc haikensa-se-te-itadak-e-mase-n ka. see(Hon)-Cause-TE-(receive:Hon)-can-Polite-Nomi Q (Couldn’t you please show me the content of your suitcase?: at the custom house)



This should be uttered as: スーツケースの中を拝見させていただきます。

Suutsukeesu no naka o haiken-sa-se-te-itadaki-masu. suitcase of inside Acc see(Hon)-Cause-TE-(receive:Hon)-polite (Let me have a look at the content of your suitcase.) These are common errors due to over-sensitivity to honorifics. They should be rephrased by using -te kudasai.

[6] In praising the other's professional achievements, one's own impression and benefits from them should be expressed. No judge­ mental expressions are allowed. B & L (1987:104) suggest Strategy 2 of positive strategies 'Exaggerate (interest, approval, sympathy with H (=Hearer))\ It is indeed true that Japanese polite­ ness incorporates appreciation and praise. For example, (3-34) 社 長 、 ゴ ル フ が お 上 手 で す ね 。 Shachoo, gorufu ga o-joozu-desu ne. president golf Nom Hon-good-Polite M (Sir, you are good at golf.) 先生の着ていらっしゃる服すてきですね。

Sensei no ki-te-irassharu fuku suteki-desu ne. teacher of wear-TE-Prog(Hon) clothes nice-Polite M (Your clothes look nice.) いいお家に住んでいらっしゃいますね。

Ii 〇-uchi ni sun-de-irasshai-masu ne. good Hon-house in live-TE-Prog(Hon)-Polite M (You are living in a nice house.) However, unlike English, Japanese has constraints on the usage o f B & Ls Strategy 2. While in English, lectures, speeches, books and performance can be praised as ^


in Japanese one^ professional performance or achieve­

ment cannot be freely praised. Homeru (=praise) is the action which the senior in age/status can take, implying some condescending attitudes. Common errors are:


U nderstanding Japanese

(3-35) * 先 生 の 授 業 は よ か っ た で す 。 * Sensei no jugyoo wa yokat-ta-desu. teacher of class r 〇p good-Pst-Polite (Your teaching was good.) *上手にお教えなさいました。 * Joozuni o-oshie-nasai-mashi-ta. well Hon-teach-(Hon)-Polite-Pst (You taught us excellently.) *先生の論文はとてもまとまっていました。 * Sensei no ronbun wa totemo matomat-te-i-mashi-ta. teacher of article Top very be organised-TE-Prog-Polite-Pst (Your article was well organised.) *社長の会議でのスピーチはよくできていました。 * Shachoo no kaigi de no supiichi wa yoku deki-te-i-mashi-ta. president of meeting at of speech Top well can-TE-Prog-Polite-Pst (Your speech at the meeting was very good.) *社長のご意見はりっぱです。 * Shachoo no go-iken wa rippa-desu. president of Hon-opinion Top splendid-Polite (Your opinion is very good.) To praise the other’s professional performance, one has to use strategies which imply that one has learned something important or beneficial rather than those which directly praise the content o f the other’s performance. All the examples in (3-35) can be expressed by using subarashii (=wonderflil). Also, the following expressions may be useful. (3 -3 6 ) 感 動 い た し ま し た 。 Kandoo-itashi-mashi-ta. be impressed-(Hon)-Polite-Pst ((1) was deeply impressed.) 勉強になりました。

Benkyoo-ni-nari-mashi-ta. become leaming-Polite-Pst (It was a good learning experience for me.)




Kanmei o uke-mashi-ta. great impression Acc receive-Polite-Pst (I was impressed.) 学ばせていただきました。

Manaba-se-te-itadaia-mashi-ta. leam-Cause-TE-(receive:Hon)-Polite-Pst (I learned sometnmg.) 貴重なご意見をありがとうございました。

Kichoona go-iken o arigatoo-gozai-mashi-ta. invaluable Hon-opinion Acc thank you-Hon-Polite-Pst (Thanks for your invaluable opinion.)

[7] T does not stand in a capital letter in lapanese. Use expressions which place oneself in the background This may apply to many other strategies in Japanese. Because in English the subject has to be first established in order to construct a sentence, the pronoun 4r is quite frequently used. Learners tend to start many o f their sentences with watashi. As discussed in Chapter 2, the Japanese language is speaker-oriented, which already implies that many structures involve the Speaker’s viewpoint or the speaker her/himself without referring to watashi. Therefore, it is often the case that when watashi occurs, there must be a special reason. The world o f honorifics needs a further consideration. Interactants in this world do not equally stand as individuals, and therefore, the use of the pronoun T often violates the rules of dependence and discernment. This is because the linguistic explicitness o f T in an utterance leads to differentiation o f ‘myself ’ from the other, or sometimes to making ‘myself ’ stand on the equal level with the other. To avoid one’s direct reference to oneself, the following expressions may be used at the end o f a sentence. (3 -3 7 )…to omoware-masu (it seems that…) ...ja-nai-desh-oo ka (isn’t it".) …koto ni nat-te-ori-masu (It has been decided that...) …de, yoroshii-desh-oo ka? (all right if...)


U nderstanding Japanese

The last two expressions in (3-37) particularly aim to avoid the tone o f threat­ ening the other to agree with some decision or to pursue the task given. They are used in (3-38), for example, (3-38) 社 長 、 今 日 は 三 時 に A 会 社 で 会 議 が あ り ま す の で 、 二 時 に お 車 が 起 迎えに来ることになっておりますが、 よろしいでしようか。

Shachoo, kyoo president today

wa san-ji m A-gaisha Top 3~o’clock at A Company

de kaigi ga at meeting Nom

ari-masu-node, have-Polite-Conj

m-ji ni o-kuruma ga o-mukae-ni 2-o’clock at Hon-car Nom Hon-pick up-for

kuru-koto-ni-nat-te-ori-masu ga, yoroshi卜desh-oo ka. come-scheduled-TE-Prog(Hon)-Polite Conj good-Polite-assume Q (Sir, today there is a meeting at 3 o’clock at A Company. The car is supposed to come to pick you up at 2 o’clock. Is it OK?)

3.3.6. Summary The four stages for learners to learn honorifics have been discussed. We have seen the sociological concept of politeness in Japanese (Stage 1),honorific forms (Stage 2), the distinction between uchi and soto which determines who receives honorifics in what situation (Stage 3) and politeness strategies (Stage 4). Although these stages are the main steps to learning honorifics, I do not deny that there are some peripheral phenomena in the world o f honorifics which are not covered in the discussion above. For example, in service industry, honorifics are quite specialised and used only by service industry employees to their customers. Many expressions exercised by them do not conform to the rule o f kenjoo styles, i.e. the rule that kenjoo styles should furnish directional/ task-based nature. This was implied in Also, women's bikago (self­ beautification language) violate the distinction between uchi and soto. Women are universally more polite in language use than men. In Japanese, women incorporate honorifics to sound more feminine, and use them liberally in every situation. Also, extra-linguistic politeness has not been discussed in the chapter, although it is equally important in the world o f politeness. Eye-contacts,



manners and gestures are quite culture specific. Linguistic but not grammati­ cally encoded features are also differentiated in between honorific and nonhonorific worlds; for example, tone of voice, pitch, and the use of interjections (e.g. haa? is more polite than e? when asking the other?s statement to be repeated) etc. This chapter concentrated on only linguistic and grammatical aspects of honorifics. In this respect, the four stages discussed above will cover main situations learners will encounter. When errors occur, it is best to analyse which stage the errors belong to. This way is quicker in mastering honorifics than memorising honorifics at random. Complex though they may be, they are fairly systematic and can be logically explained. Honorifics are not an intuitive system, and even the Japanese have to learn and master them.

3.4. Demonstrative korelkono In this sub-section and onwards, some grammatical terms are examined from the viewpoint o f the wcW/s■(加 distinction. In 3.3. honorifics are basically systematised according to the social uchi consciousness. As discussed in 3.2., social uchi is one o f the three types of uchi consciousness. The grammatical terms introduced in the following also refer to the other types o f uchi, i.e. psychological and deictic. Demonstratives in Japanese are categorised as three types; kore/kono (te ­ as a prototype), sore/sono (so-) and are/ano (a-). Physical distance from a speaker to an object is marked by the demonstratives; ko- as proximal, so- as distant (or close to the listener) and a- as distant from both the speaker and the listener. These demonstratives also account for psychological distance. Ko- is proximal to and so- is distant from the speaker. Masaho (1981) refers to so- as objective or non-emotional (=reisei). A-, on the other hand, is distant physi­ cally or kept only in memory (not observed in front o f the speaker and the listener), and at the same time is assumed to be common knowledge between the speaker and the listener. Figure 3.4 shows the relation between these three demonstratives.


U nderstanding Japanese

Figure 3.4

(S=Speaker, L=listener) (modified figure of Masaho 1987:69) Let us now look at some examples, starting with a-. (3-39) A : ほ ら 、 こ の あ い だ 見 た 映 画 ね 。 B : うん、 あ の 映 画 、 そ れ が ど う し た の 。 A••今 、 す ご く 人 気 が で て き た ん で す っ て 。 A: Hora, konoaida mi-ta eiga ne. hi the other day see-Pst film M B : Un, an〇 eiga, sore ga doo-shi-ta no? yeah that film it Nom how-do-Pst M A: Ima, sugoku ninki ga dete-ki-ta-n-desut-te. now very reputation Nom get out-come-Pst-Nomi-Polite-I hear (A: That film we saw the other day, you know. B: Yeah, that film. What is it about? A: Now, it is very popular, I hear.) (3-40) A B A B

:おい、 あれがまだあったろ。 :あれって何ですか。 :ほら、 田中さんが持ってきてくれたお菓子。 :ああ、 あれね。

A: Oi, are ga mada at-ta-ro. hey that Nom still have-Pst-assume B: Aret-te nan desu ka. that-Quote what Cop(Polite) Q A: Hora, Tanaka-san ga mot-te-ki-te-kure-ta okashi. remember Tanaka Nom bring-TE-come-TE-(give)-Pst sweets B: Aa, are ne. Oh that M


(A: B: A: B:


Hey, there must be some of that left. What is that? Remember, the sweets Tanaka brought to us. Oh, yes, that one.)

(3-39) shows that the film the two interactants viewed is common knowledge between them. Thus, ano eiga (=that film) is mentioned. In (3-40) the first speaker assumed that his partner (probably his wife) understood what he was referring to; thus are is used. However, his thought was not transferred to her. It is only after he describes what is referred to that the object becomes mutual knowledge; therefore, the use o f are accredits this knowledge. As Figure 3.4 shows, so- basically belongs to the listener^ territory of information (the term by Kamio 1990). Also, psychologically, so- is situated distant form the speaker, or the speaker is showing indifference to the object referred to by so-. Ko- and a- denote a subjective judgement, i.e. the speaker's psychological closeness to the object referred to by ko- and the speaker^ assumption of common knowledge of the object referred to by a-. In contrast, so- has an objective characteristic. The speaker is not psychologically involved in the object referred to by so-, and places it outside the speaker's territory, or often leaves it to the listener. Uchi consciousness considers ko-, and ascribes it to 'psychological prox­ imity between the speaker and the object referred to1. Given utterances that can opt for both ko- and so-, the selection o f ko- implies that the speaker considers the object to be her/his psychological uchi. So- imports the speaker^ indifference towards the object or his/her intention to regard it as soto. For example, (3 -4 1 ) こ の 間 道 で ぶ つ か っ た 人 ね 、 こ の 人 が な ん と 今 の ボ ー イ フ レ ン ド なの。

Konoaida the other day

michi de butsukat-ta street at bump into-Pst

kono hito ga nanto ima this person Nom imagine now

hito ne, person M

no booifiirendo na of boyfriend Cop

no. M


U nderstanding Japanese

(Talking of the person I bumped into the other day, this person is now my boyfriend.) (3 -4 2 ) こ の 間 道 で ぶ つ か っ た 人 ね 、 そ の 人 に 今 日 ま た 会 っ た わ 。 Konoaida michi de butsukat-ta hito ne, the other day street at bump into-Pst person M sono hito ni kyoo mata at-ta wa. that person with today again meet-Pst M (Talking of the person I bumped into the other day, I met him again today.) In describing someone who the speaker recently bumped into, there is a tremendous psychological difference expressed towards that person as the speaker’s boyiriend or as someone she has just met again. The speaker’s psychological proximity towards the person referred to is embodied in the expression, kono hito (=this person) as in (3-41). Sono hito (=that person) in (3-42) implies that the speaker does not regard him as a member of the speaker’s psychological

wc/h .

remains psychologically neutral or indifferent

to the speaker. Kamio (1990) explains our term, 'psychological proximity?by using 'ter­ ritory of information,. Ko- is considered to belong to the speaker^ territory of information, while so- belongs to the listener^ territory. However, Kamio5s terminology cannot detail all the features o f kono and sono. This is because it does not clearly show the speaker^ psychological state at the time o f an utter­ ance. This is more evident when both kono and sono can occur in the same utterance. For example, in (3-41)and (3-42), the speaker had a choice between kono and sono. Both are grammatically and semantically acceptable. At the same time, the information in both utterances belongs to the speaker^ terri­ tory. This means that the selection o f kono rather than sono adds further prag­ matic information to the territory o f information, i.e. the speaker^ emotional attachment to the person referred to.




V’+ te-kureru

In Chapter 2, we introduced the Speaker’s view which is closely related to how a phenomenon is linguistically manifested in grammatical arrangement. In Japanese, more often than not the speaker describes objects from the Speaker's view while in English the Speaker’s view is placed outside the phenomenon. V'-h te-kureru and V ,Jr te-ageru (V? is a verb stem), translated as 4to receive

and 4to give VMrespectively, are one o f most confusing grammatical

functions for learners. This is because -kureru indicates not merely a receiving action, but also it shows where the Speaker’s view is situated (Not to be confUsed between the speaker and the Speaker’s view. The former is a person who is actually involved in the phenomenon while the latter is an abstracted concept which functions as arranging a grammatical sentence). The context is described according to the Speaker^ view, and if the action is directed towards the speaker, it is linguistically realised as

te-kureru. If the context is directed towards

another person from the speaker, -ageru occurs. Figure 3.5 and 3.6 show the summary o f Chapter 2. Figure 3.6 is the English counterpart. Figure



= the Speaker's view

—^ = direction of a deed -ageru


G 〇

person 415 Tetsudat-te-kure-mashi-ta.


% person T Tetsudat-te-age-mashi-ta.


U nderstanding Japanese

Figure 3.6


I helped someone.

Someone helped me.

The Speaker’s view can be used to explain how the sentence is arranged in describing third persons’ experiences. That is, the Speaker’s view is extended from the speaker to the speaker^ uchi members, whether social, psychological or simply rhetorical, depending on the relationship between the speaker and third persons. It is generally explained in grammar books that V' + -te-kureru is used for the action whose receiver is either the speaker or someone who belongs to the speaker’s group (e.g. family members, members of the company) (e.g. Teramura 1982:134). However, this explanation needs further constraints. That is, the action should be directed from the speaker^ social soto to uchi members unless the experience is the speaker’s own. Therefore ,(3-43) is not acceptable because the action kau (to buy) is directed from the speaker^ uchi member to another uchi. (3-43) * 姉 が 妹 に お も ち や を 買 っ て く れ ま し た 。 * Ane ga imooto ni omocha o older sister Nom younger sister for toy Acc kat-te-kure-mashi-ta. buy-TE- (give)-Polite-Pst (The older sister bought a toy for the younger sister.)




This should be structured without -kureru. On the other hand, if the receiver of an action is the speaker him/herself, -kureru should be used no matter who gives the action. Now, let us look at some examples. (3 -4 4 ) 田 中 さ ん が 妹 を 送 っ て く れ ま し た 。 Tanaka-san ga imooto o okut-te-kure-mashi-ta. Tanaka Nom yonger sister Acc give a lift-TE-(give)-Polite-Pst (Mr Tanaka gave my sister a lift home.) (3-45) 松 田 会 社 の 部 長 さ ん が う ち の 課 の 田 中 を 指 名 し て く れ た ん だ よ 。 Matsuda-gaisha no buchoo-san ga uchi no ka Matsuda-Company of division manager Nom inside of section no Tanaka o shimeish卜te-kure-ta-n-da yo. of Tanaka Acc appoint-TE-(give)-Pst-Nomi-DA M (The division manager of Matsuda Company appointed our Tanaka.) In (3-44), the receiver o f the action (=to give a lift) is the speaker’s young sister (psychological uchi). In (3-45), the receiver o f the action (to appoint) is the speaker^ company member (social uchi). Whether the receiver of an action is a psychological or a social wc/z/ member, the examples above indicate thatthe speaker and the action receiver belong ta a certain circle of group. The speaker is talking o f the receiver’s experience as if it were the speaker’s own. Figure 3.5 showed that the speaker and the person T are identical. The Speaker’s view is the same as the experiencer T . In (3-44) and (3,45), the experiencer is ‘my sister’ and ‘Tanaka’ respectively. The Speaker’s view is assimilated with these experiencers, and describes a phenomenon from this viewpoint. In other words, (3-44) and (3-45) show that the Speaker’s view is extended to a third person. F igure 3.7 shows the situation described by (3-44). In this figure, the Speaker's view is extended to his/her psychological uchi member (i.e. his/her sister), and the context is described from his/her uchi member^ view.


U nderstanding Japanese

C* = the Speaker’s view

Figure 3.7

Tanaka-san ga imooto o okut-te-kure-mashi-ta. 丁he

auxiliary, -Awrerw, connotes that the action (V’) is gratefully accepted.

In (3-44) - (3-45), while -kureru conveys the speaker^ uchi membership, it also implies the speaker^ grateful feelings. However, (3-46) shows that the speaker expresses a sarcastic comment on the division manager’s action (あり がた迷惑

ar/ga/a me/而

= an unwelcome favour).

(3 -46) 松 田 会 社 の 部 長 さ ん が う ち の 課 の 田 中 を 指 名 し て く れ た 時 に は 、 困ったよ。

Matsuda-gaisha no buchoo-san ga uchi no ka Matsuda-Company of division manager Nom inside of section no Tanaka o shimeishi-te-kure-ta toki ni wa, komat-ta yo. of Tanaka Acc q)point-TE-(give)-Pst Conj at Top trouble-Pst M (When the division manager of Matsuda Company appointed our Tanaka, (I felt) annoyed.) -Kureru normally occurs in contexts which connote benefitial acts for the recipient o f the action, thus conveys the speaker’s gratifying attitude. On the other hand, H -kureru is used in contexts which may adversely affect the recipient, its connotation has a reverse effect, i.e. it conveys sarcasm or ac­ cusatory implications. For example:



(3-47)よ く も な ぐ っ て く れ た な 。 Yokumo nagut-te-kure-ta na. dare hit-TE-(give)-Pst M (How dare (you) hit (me)!) 大変な間違いをしてくれましたね。

Taihenna machigai o shi-te-kure-mashi-ta ne. terrible mistake Acc do-TE-(give)-Polite-Pst M ((You) dared to make a big mistake.) In (3-47), the content o f the utterances is disadvantageous to the recipient (= the speaker). Therefore, the use o f -k u re ru connotes the speaker^ negative emotions toward the listener, implying his/her sarcastic comment on what the listener did. Therefore, (3-45) - (3-47) show that -k u re ru adds either gratefulness (or benefits for the speaker/his or her group) or annoyance (or disadvantage for the speaker/his or her group), depending on the nature o f the context, or pre­ cisely speaking, depending on the speaker^ psychological state in the context. In other words, the speaker^ judgement on members o i s o t o is reflected in the usage o f -k u re ru . Morita (1995:180) says that non-judgemental and purely descriptive state­ ments which maintain ego and alter at the same level are more common in English and less common in Japanese. This statement may be considered to be rather over-generalised by extracting a stereo-typical attribute o f the two languages. It may not apply to every language behaviour. However, as far as grammatical terms which presuppose psychological they disclose the borderline between the speaker^

u c h i/s o to

u ch i

are concerned,

and s o t o , and at the

same time, the speaker^ judgem ent on s o t o . V* + - te - k u r e r u is one such example. The English verbs, ‘to give’ and ‘to receive’, on the other hand^ do not enunciate such psychological states, or distinguish 'others9from 4ours at least at the linguistic level. The examples above with

-te -k u r e r u

are concerned with the speaker or

his/her u c h i group members. There are also other examples which contain this


U nderstanding Japanese

auxiliary, though participants in a context are not the speaker's social uchi group members. This is because there are instances which are situationally determined by using the speaker^ temporary psychological uchi conscious­ ness or through the speaker's decision to project his/her deictic view upon the person concerned. For example, (3 -48) 皆 さ ん 、 今 日 は こ の 方 が 話 し て く だ さ い ま す 。 Mina-san, kyoo wa kono kata ga everyone today Top this person(Hon) Nom hanashi-te-kudasai-masu. talk-TE-(give:Hon)-Polite (Everyone, today this person will give a talk (for us).) In tins utterance, -kureru is honorific-marked, and -kudasaru is used. The speaker does not have to form a certain relationship with the audience; she/he may be just a cnairman in the meeting. However, it is common to use -kureru to imply that the speaker and the audience belong to the same uchi. This is a situational ucm. iTie speaker is emphatic with the audience by using temporary psychological uchi consciousness. The complex verb V f + -te-kureru also manifests a deictic uchi in certain contexts. Normally a descriptive statement without the speaker^ psychological involvement such as (3-49) is not accompanied with -kureru. (3 -4 9 ) 田 中 さ ん が ' 黒 田 さ ん の サ イ フ を 見 つ け ま し た 。 Tanaka-san ga Kuroda-san no saifu o mitsuke-mashi-ta. Tanaka Nom Kuroda of purse Acc find-Polite-Pst (Tanaka found Kuroda’s wallet.) In (3-49), the speaker stands outside the scene o f the whole context, and gives a descriptive statement of his/her experience. In reality, however, this utterance is not common because it sounds like a narrative. Normally, the speaker first decides where he/she anchors his/her view­ point upon. If the speaker views the scene from the standpoint o f Kuroda in (3-49), F'H- -te-kureru occurs. This is only a rhetoric, and does not necessarily



involve the speaker’s psychological proximity to Kuroda. (3-49),田 中 さ ん が 黒 田 さ ん の サ イ フ を 見 つ け て く れ ま し た 。 Tanaka-san ga Kuroaa-san no saifu o mitsuke-te-kure-mashi-ta Tanaka Nom Kuroda of purse Acc find-TE-(give)-Polite-Pst (Tanaka found Kuroda’s wallet.) In (3-49)’, the Speaker’s viewpoint is focussed on Kuroda, and the context is described according to Kuroda^ perspective. However, the borderline between (temporary) psychological uchi and deictic uchi is obscure in tms example. The auxiliary, -kureru, in (3-49)9may well be argued as the result of the speaker^ psychological identification (or empathy) with ‘Kuroda’. Given the utterance (3-49)9alone, both types of uchi can apply to this. Deictic uchi is more clearly identified if the context previous to the utter­ ance (3-49)? focuses on Kuroda^ deed/circumstances, and thus Kuroda is a topic in interaction. Then, the speaker is forced by this context to maintain this person as the deictic focus. The speaker's psychological judgement on Kuroda is placed secondary in this context. Deictic uchi is used for a purely rhetorical purpose. The speaker or writer's decision to describe a certain person as the centre o f a phenomenon will take this view, and the story will be described from this person’s viewpoint. This is a rhetorical technique which is frequently employed by novelists. The author focuses on a certain character (normally a protagonist), and describes scenes from this character’s perspective. Kuno (1978) uses the term ‘empathy’, defined as ‘assimilation o f the speaker with the object referred to’. He also uses the term ‘camera angle’. The description o f an object becomes different according to the camera angle the speaker places. However, Kuno does not differentiate between psychological and deictic assimilations. Yamada (1985) doubts Kuno's empathy theory, and asserts that the description o f an object may be conducted apart from the speaker^ empathy (i.e. psychological assimilation). Kamio (1990) also ex­ presses the possibility o f the 4objective, viewpoint which determines how the


U nderstanding Japanese

context can be described. Deictic wcA/ in this chapter follows Yamada and Kamio. (3-49)’ does not necessarily imply that the speaker is empathic with Kuroda. It would be more appropriate to assume that the speaker describes the context o f (3-49)’ merely from the viewpoint o f Kuroda. In Japanese, although the ‘Isolation type’ (the Speaker’s view is outside the phenomena, being similar to Figure 2.6 in Chapter 2, showing ‘Isolation type5 in English) may occur (e.g. (3-49)), it is more customary to appoint someone in a phenomenon to be treated as a focus o f the Speaker's view (e.g. as shown in (3-49),)>Primarily the speaker scrutinises a certain social or psychological relationship with the person in an observed phenomenon, and describes the phenomenon from this person’s viewpoint. If the speaker cannot find such a relationship, she/he may readily employ a deictic uchi to focus on another person, and describes the phenomenon from this person’s perspective. Deictic uchi is a rhetorical treatment of the person, which should be differentiated from social/psychological uchi, because the former gives the speaker freedom to choose a person he/she focuses on, while the latter does not.

3.6. r + -fai Traditionally

-tai is explained as characterising the first person's desire.

This is contrasted with V, + -tagaru which specifies the third person's desire. This illustration is probably sufficient for learners o f the language at the rudi­ mentary level. However, it soon cannot adequately encompass many other utterances in reality. First, take V' + -tai only in primary sentence2 (=simple sentence which does not contain any other clauses in the structure).

-tai is

allowed to occur between absolute uchi members (and only between them). In a request form, the speaker can ask the listener’s desire with F ’+ ィa/. (3-50) A : ね え 、 コ ー ヒ ー 飲 み た い ? B : うん、 飲 み た い 。 A: Nee, koohn nomi-tai? hey coffee drink-want





B: Un, nomi-tai. yeah drink-want (A: Hey, do you want to drink coffee? B: Yeah, (I) want to drink (it).) (3-51) A : お な か す い て る み た い ね 。 こ の ケ ー キ 食 べ た い ? B : うん、 ち ょ う だ い 。 A: Onaka sui-te-ru-mitai ne. Kono keeKi tabe-tai? stomach empty-TE-Prog-look M this cake eat-want B: Un, choodai. yeah give (A: You look hungry. Do you want to eat this cake? B: Yeah, give (it to me).) (3-50) and (3-51) show that absolute uchi members can use V*+-tai as if the speaker took the role o f the other person, assimilating the former's aesire with the latter’s. As was mentioned in 2.3., absolute uchi members do not use honorifics (including polite neutral forms, desu/masu forms) to one another, unless aiming at sarcasm or emotional distance temporarily. Then, it is logically plausible to say that because V iJr tai is used only toward absolute uchi members when asking their desires, honorific forms cannot be concomitant with this verb form. And yet, the following examples which contradict this are often found in pedagogical textbooks. (3-52) ? ? ? あ な た は 泳 ぎ た い で す か 。 ??? Anata wa oyogi-tai-desu ka. you Top swime-want-Polite Q (Do you want to swim?) (3-53) ? ? ? あ な た は 映 画 が み た い で す か 。 ??? Anata wa eiga ga mi-tai-desu ka. you Top film Nom see-want-Polite Q (Do you want to watch a film?) (Kokusai kooryuu kikin Nihongo kokusai sentaa 1993.232)


U nderstanding Japanese

In reality, utterances such as (3-52) and (3-53) do not occur. The polite form -desu is directed towards the listener who is outside the speaker^ absolute uchi member. And yet

-tai which indicates only the speaker^ absolute

uchi member occurs in these examples. This is quite odd. The so-called 'for­ eigner talk5is created here. At the beginners5level, learners acquire only desu/ masu forms. On the other hand, expressing personal desires is a relatively easy target in pedagogy; thus, the form, -tai, is introduced at this quite early stage. Thus, rfesw/mosw enevitably combine with イa/ when constructing a sentence. Probably this is the reason why examples such as (3-52) and (3-53) are in­ troduced as a stepping stone (although this requires further study, if it is necessary). However, in real situations, asking the listener^ desire directly is permitted only between absolute uchi members. (3-52) and (3-53) should be rephrased as follows: (3-52)5If the speaker merely asks what the other is going to do, 泳ぐんですか。

Oyogu-n-desu ka. swim-Nomi-Polite Q

(Are you going to swim?)

If the speaker wants to suggest swimming, 泳ぎにいきませんか。

Oyogi ni iki-mase-n ka. swim-for-go-Polite-Neg Q

(Shall we go swimming?)

(3-53)* If the speaker merely asks what the other is going to do, 映画を見るんですか。

Eiga o miru-n-desu ka. film Acc see-Nomi-Polite O (Are you going to watch a film?) If the speaker wants to suggest a film, 映画を見にいきませんか。

Eiga o mi-m-iKi-mase-n ka. film Acc see-for-go-Polite-Neg Q (Shall we go to see a film?)




Eiga demo ikaga desu ka. film for example how about Polite Q (How about a film or something else?) Apart from absolute ucm members, desires, V iJr -tai occurs in another type of primary sentence. (3-54)

彼はフランスへ行きたかった。 けれども、 フランスは、かなり遠 かったし、お金もなかった。

Kare wa Furansu e iki-takat-ta. Keredomo, he Top France to go-want-Pst Conj Furansu wa kanari tookat-ta-shi, o-kane mo nakat-ta. France Top quite far-Pst-Conj Hon-money too have not-Pst (He wanted to go to France. However, France is too far away. Besides, (he) did not have money, either.) In a story such as a novel, the writer often takes the view o f the main character. In this situation, the writer can freely express the feelings and desires o f his/ her characters. Tins is a typical example o f deictic projection. The character is treated as the writer^ deictic uchi member.

3.7. Causative (Vr+ -serulsaseru) The grammatical torm

ド’+ - 從 rw/soyerw is termed

‘causative’;a term which is

often interpreted as ‘one makes the other do something’. This interpretation is not absolutely incorrect as there do exist some utterances which pursue this ‘causative’ nature. (3 -5 5 ) 店 主 は 横 暴 き わ ま り な く 、 店 員 に コ ー ヒ ー を 作 ら せ た り 、 煙 草 ま でも買いにやらせた。

Ten-shu wa ooboo kiwaman-naku, ten-in ni shop-owner Top violence limit-not shop-member to koohii o tsukura-se-tari tabako made mo kai-m-yara-se-ta. coffee Acc make-Caus-Conj cigarette even too buy-for-go-Caus-Pst (The shop owner was tyrannical. He/She made his/her employees make coffee for him/her, and made them even go out to get cigarettes.)


U nderstanding Japanese

(3-55) is a typical example o f a causative sentence in a literary sense. Because the employer gives such orders only to his/her employees, i.e. his/her power is limited only to his territorial people, this might form a kind o f uchi group. However, normally the causative sentence with the speaker as its subject implies that the other person who is given a task or requested to do some­ thing is considered to be the speaker^ either psychological or social uchi member. For example, (3 -5 6 ) こ ど も に は ピ ア ノ と 柔 道 を 習 わ せ て い ま す の 。 Kodomo ni wa piano to juudoo o child to Top piano and judo Acc narawa-se-te-i-masu no. leam-Caus-TE-Prog-Polite M ((1 allow the situation that) my child is learning piano and Judo.) (3 -5 7 ) こ の 仕 事 は う ち の 田 中 に や ら せ ま し ょ う 0 Kono shigoto wa uchi no Tanaka ni vara-se-mash-oo. this job Top inside of Tanaka to do-Caus-Polite-lefs ((1 will) let Tanaka in my section do tms job.) In (3-56), the speaker is most likely to be the child^ mother (the particle no is a female term), and their relationship is an absolute uchi. (3-57) shows that the speaker and his/her section junior, Tanaka, belong to the same social uchi group, while the listener is situated as their soto. In both cases, the speaker has to be superior in age/social status to the person who fulfills the given task. The causative form in (3-57) is considered to be one o f the polite styles. Whether the speaker in reality asks or orders Tanaka to do the job (depending on the speaker^ personality), the causative fonn when facing a soto member is a polite term by treating his uchi member (Tanaka) with humility. However, this does not mean that the inferior can utter the causative form in order to tell the superior to do the task. Even when the speaker is talking about his/her uchi group member to his/her soto member, the rule o f Japanese vertical society (tate shakai

) has to be applied in this utterance. The difference in

social status and age is taken into consideration to allow the causative form in



an utterance. Therefore, (3-58) is not acceptable. (3-59) is more appropriate. (3-58) * こ の 仕 事 は う ち の 社 長 に や ら せ ま す 0 * Kono shigoto wa uchi no shachoo ni this job Top inside of president to ((1) will make my boss do this job.)

vara-se-masu. do-Caus-Polite

(3 -5 9 )この仕事はうちの社長がやってくれると思います。 Kono shigoto wa uchi no shachoo ga this job Top inside of president Nom vat-te-kureru to omoi-masu. do-TE-(give) Quote think-Polite (I think our president might kindly do this job.) In the examples (3-56) and (3-57), there may be different degrees of will­ ingness on the part o f the person who is given a task. If the person^ willing­ ness reaches the extent that she/he voluntarily fulfills the task or requests to do it, the nature o f -seru/saseru ceases to be causative, and another prag­ matic attribute arises, though the speaker still maintains a certain situational power. The following examples are not really ‘causative’ in a literary sense, but rather ‘permissive’. (3 -6 0 ) う ち の 子 供 が や り た い と 言 っ 、 たものですから、



Uchi no kodomo ga yari-tai to it-ta-mono-desu kara, inside of child Nom do-want Quote say-Pst-indeed-Polite Conj piano to juudoo o narawa-se-te-i-masu no. piano and judo Acc leam-Caus-TE-Prog-Polite M (I let my child learn piano and Judo because she/he said she/he wanted to learn them.) (3 -6 1 ) こ の 仕 事 は う ち の 課 の 田 中 が や り た が っ て い ま し た 。 彼 に や ら 兰 ましょう。

Kono shigoto wa uchi no ka no this job Top inside of section of yari-tagat-te-i-mashi-ta. Kare ni do-want-TE-Prog-Polite-Pst he to

Tanaka Tanaka

ga Nom

yara-se-mash-oo. , do-Caus-Polite-let’s


U nderstanding Japanese

(Tanaka in my section wanted to do this job. Let’s let him do it.) In (3-60) and (3-61), the speaker permits his/her uchi member to do a task. The main clause with a causative form is construed in the same way and its cognitive meaning is the same as (3-56) and (3-57). However, the pragmatic interpretation (i.e. permission) and presupposition (i.e. the topic person’s willingness/request) differ considerably between (3-56) and (3-60), and (3-57) and (3-61). The examples above are all uttered from the speaker's viewpoint. If the speaker is outside the contextual situation, causative forms manifest a deictic projection onto the person who is in charge o f controlling the situation. (3 -6 2 ) 田 中 さ ん の 奥 さ ん は 子 供 に ピ ア ノ を 習 わ せ て い る 。 Tanaka-sannookusan wa kodomoni piano o narawa-se-te-iru. Tanaka of wife(Hon) Top child to piano Acc leam-Caus-TE-Prog (Mr Tanaka’s wife let her child leam piano.) (3 -6 3 ) 川 本 社 長 は 田 中 さ ん に そ の 仕 事 を さ せ た 。 Kawamoto shachoo wa Tanaka-sanni sono shigoto o sa-se-ta. Kawamoto president Top Tanaka to that job Acc do-Caus-Pst (President Kawamoto allowed Tanaka to do the job.) Whether these utterances are ‘real, or ‘permission’ causatives (unknown to the listener due to lack of information), the speaker describes the situation from the viewpoint o f Tanaka's wife in (3-62) and President Kawamoto in (3-63) who have the power o f controlling another person’s situation. The speaker regards these people as deictic uchi members. Vertical relationships are still maintained between the controllers and the controlled in the contexts. If the Speaker's view is completely assimilated with the other, and describes the other's feelings, thoughts and senses which are induced from outer factors, the basic nature o f causatives, i.e. the onus put upon somebody to do a certain task, will disappear, and the causative form will carry passive or incentive nature. In this case, the speaker's deictic projection is placed upon the person who experiences these senses and feelings. For example,




食 欲 を そ そ ら せ る いい匂い

shoku-yoku o sosora-seru ii nioi eating-desire Acc lure-Caus good smell (nice smell to cause appetite) (3-65)


umai sushi o tabe-saseru mise yummy sushi Acc eat-Caus shop (the restaurant which serves tasty sushi) (3 -6 6 ) ウ チ と ソ ト に つ い て 外 国 人 に わ か ら せ る の は 難 し い 。 Uchi to soto ni tsuite gaikoku-jin ni wakara-seru inside and outside about foreigner toward understand-Caus no wa muzukashii. Nomi Top difficult (It is difficult to explain about 'uchi' and "soto' in order for foreigners to understand them.) (3-67)

国 中 に 不 安 を 抱 か せ た ニュース

kuni-juu ni flian o idaka-se-ta nyuusu country-all in fear Acc hold-Caus-pst news (the news which gave the nation fear) Although the causative form is used in the above examples, in reality the experiencer of an action (V'+seru/saseru) is not forced to do a task (V9). Outer factors (the smell in (3-64), the restaurant in (3-65), the explanation in (3-66) and the news in (3-67)) become a trigger which induces the experiencer^ judgement or feeling. Note that these judgement and feeling are perceived entirely inside the experiencer's mind. And yet, the speaker takes the view of the experiencer, and describes the latter^ inner senses as if they were the speaker’s own. In (3-64) and (3-65), the speaker may or may not be identified with the experiencer. Nonetheless, the speaker situates her/himself outside the context, and projects her/his view onto the experiencer. Even though the experience in the context is the speaker^ own (and it often happens as a generalisation of the speaker's experience), the description o f a context is formed as a deictic pro­


U nderstanding Japanese

jection, placing the speaker as a third person. This may not be conspicuous in (3-64) and (3-65). It is more prominent in (3-66) and (3-67). If (3-67) is the speaker’s own experience, the causative form is less likely to be acceptable, but its original verb form with the speaker as a subject should be used. (3-68) ? ? ? 私 に 不 安 を 抱 か せ た 。 ??? Watashi ni fuan o idaka-se-ta. I to fear Acc hold-Caus-Pst ((The incident) made me have fear.) (3-69)


Watashi wa ftian o idai-ta. I Top fear Acc hold-Pst (I felt fear.) Grammatically (3-68) may be well-formed, but pragmatically it is quite un­ natural unless a special setting is given in a dramatic way, for instance, in a film or a novel. In the case o f (3-66), wakaru (=to understand) is the speaker’s experience, but wakara- in wakaraseru is the other person^ experience. There­ fore, the causative form cannot be used to specify the speaker's experience.

3.8. Particles, ne and yo The so-called MwwノW z/ ( 終 助 詞 )are particles which occur at the end of the sentence although some may occur within a sentence (at the end of a phrase or word). Because o f their pragmatic meanings, they are sometimes compared to inteijections. Questions, information, order, emotional movements, wish etc. are manifested by shuu joshi. Thus, Kuno (1973) calls them 4mood markers'. This sub-section deals with two mood markers, ne and yo, in line with the uchi/soto distinction. The uchi consciousness here is 'temporary psychologicaF uchi. The speaker's empathy with the listener in a certain situation creates this uchi consciousness. Ne is designated to the uchi consciousness. The information conveyed by the speaker is shared empathically with the listener. Thus, the use o f ne makes the speaker’s attitude more congenial to the listener or to the whole situation.



However, it would be misleading if ne were understood merely as 'sharing information’ between the speaker and the listener, which is quite a normal explanation in grammar books (e.g. Kurobane 1995:257). Indeed, the conver­ sation such as (3-70) with ne apparently instances shared information between the speaker and the listener. (3-70) A : い い 天 気 で す 赵 B :そうです益。


A: Ii tenki desu ne. good weather Polite M B: Soo desu ne. so Polite M (A: Nice weather, isn’t it? B: It is, indeed.) The interactants acknowledge the fact that it is a fine day, and it becomes shared information. However, shared information, whether linguistically or extra-linguistically, must be recognised in advance o f interactions, i.e. both interactants (are supposed to) mutually know that it is a fine day. Only then can it be confirmed by the use o f ne. Therefore, without shared information pre-contextually, ne cannot occur. The following examples are common errors by learners. This is because learners believe that ne is 'shared information, due to the misleading instruction. (3 -7 1 )* 田 中 君 は ヨ ー ロ ッ パ へ 行 き ま し た ね 。 * Tanaka-kun wa yooroppa e iki-mashi-ta ne. Tanaka Top Europe to go-Polite-Pst M (Tanaka went to Europe.) (3 -7 2 ) 雨 の 中 で 、 車 が 故 障 し て し ま い ま し た 。 * こ ま り ま し た ね 。 Ame no naka de, kuruma ga koshooshi-te-shimai-mashi-ta. rain o f middle in car Nom break down-TE-happen-Polite-Pst

*Komari-mashi-ta ne. trouble-Polite-Pst M (The car was broken down. I was in trouble (???).)


U nderstanding Japanese

(3-73) A : 田 中 さ ん の ス ピ ー チ は ど う で し た か 。 B: ?? ? と て も よ か っ た で す ね 。 A: Tanaka-san no supiichi wa Tanaka of speech Top B: ??? Totemo yokat-ta desu very good-Pst Polite

doo deshi-ta ka. how Polite-Pst Q ne. M

(A: How was Tanaka’s speech? B: It was very good.) If the speaker intends to give information about Tanaka’s journey to Europe, rather than to confirm the fact, (3-71) is not appropriate. Learners tend to assume that ne in (3-71) may occur because the speaker provides some infor­ mation to share with the listener. Ne is rather a particle by which the speaker shows his/her empathy with the listener, and thus it temporarily includes the listener as one of the speaker^ psychological uchi members. This psychological empathy leads to the shared information, which is confirmed by ne. There­ fore, ne occurs as a result of acknowledging shared information, but does not constitute shared information. (3-71) is an example ot simple information conveyed to the listener. There is no psychological consciousness which tries to evoke the listener’s equal psychological level to the speaker. Therefore, in (3-71 ) , ^ instead o f ne should be used for information delivery. In (3-72), komarimashita (was in trouble) is the expression o f the speaker^ emotion only. This is again mere information which is delivered to the listener. Therefore, ne cannot occur in this context; instead, yo must be used. If the listener in (3-72) (this time acting as a speaker) replies to the utter­ ance, he/she may say: (3 -7 4 ) そ れ は 大 変 で し た 立 。 Sore wa taihen-deshi-ta ne. that Top troublesome-Polite-Pst M (That’s too bad.) Because the content o f the utterance (3-72) becomes shared information, and



at the same time the speaker o f (3-74) is empathic with the previous speaker, ne must occur in (3-74). If one wishes to give one5s opinion such as B in (3-73), ne cannot be used. In reality, B9s utterance may occur, but this forces the listener to have the same opinion as the speaker. This type o f imposition occurs with -yo. (3 -7 5 ) 田 中 君 の ス ピ ー チ 良 か っ た 主 ね 。 Tanaka-kun no supiichi yokat-ta yo ne. Tanaka of speech good-Pst M M (Tanaka’s speech was good, don’t you think?) In ( 3 - 7 5 ) ,

the speaker first gives his/her own opinion o f Tanaka’s speech by

u s i n g s (information delivery), and then, by using ne assumes that the listener shares the same opinion as the speaker. This is the speaker^ intention to impose his/her opinion upon the listener. Figure 3.8 illustrates a rough sketch o f the diflference between ne andyo. The circle which encompasses both Speaker and Listener, or else just Speaker, means a temporary psychological uchi consciousness. Ne always indicates that the speaker considers the listener to be one of his/her uchi members at the time o f the utterance. Yo means that the speaker is away from the listener^ territory, and that information belongs to the speaker only or is not emphati­ cally confirmed by the speaker (i.e. it remains in the territory o f the listener). The square box in the figure is information conveyed in each situation.


U nderstanding Japanese

Figure 3.8

S = Speaker, information,

L = Listener, —> = direction of information

-v o

Let us look at some examples. (3-76) A : あの人はやさしい人です主c B1:そうです立。 B2:そうです王。 A: Ano hito that person B 1:Soo desu so Polite B2:Soo desu so Polite

wa yasashn mto desu y . Top kind person Cop(Polite) M ne. M yo. M 〇

(A: That person is a kind person. B1:Indeed. B2: Yes, I know.) First, Person A conveys the information lThat person is kind;In B 1's utterance, Person B takes this information as mutual knowledge, and agrees emphaticallv with Person A?s statement. Person B (in Utterance B l)considers Person A a temporary psychological uchi member; thus, ne occurs. If Person B does not know the information, she/he should say soo desu ka (Is that so?). In Utterance B2, on the other hand, yo indicates that the speaker is not



emphatic with the person A. Person A’s statement is confirmed by saying 奶

desu, but at the same time,^o converts this information into Person B's territory.

There is no new information here, but y o refreshes the information as if it belonged to the person B. This results in the speaker^ declaration o f the infor­ mation belonging to his/her territory. This means that both speakers, A and B, by u s i n g s , indicate only one way o f delivering information, competing in monopolising the information. T h erefo re,^ here connotes 4I know (you do not have to say it).’ Let us look at another example. (3-77) A : う ち の 子 は 東 大 は 無 理 で し よ う か 0 B1:無 理 で す 主 。 B2:無 理 で す 赵 。 A: Uchi no ko tcxxiai wa muri-desh-oo ka. inside of childTokyo university Top impossible-Polite-assume Q Bl:Muri-desu yo. impossible-Polite M B2:Muri-desu ne. impossible-Polite M ( A: Will my child have difficulties in entering Tokyo University? B 1:It will not be possible. B2: Difficult, I am afraid.) (Kamio 1990: 57; translation by the author) In Person B 5s utterance, both Bl and B2 convey the information as a reply to the question made by Person A. Connotationally, ne provides more empathy with the listener than ヌa In B l, the speaker merely provides the information which Person A asked for. The information belongs to the speaker, and is objectively conveyed to the listener. On the other hand, in B2, ne contrives to include the listener (Person A) into the speaker's uchi circle temporarily. The information, though it is conveyed by the speaker, is viewed as sharing between both interactants. The speaker by this gesture shows empathy with the listener. Kamio (1990:57) says that ン〇 shows the speaker’s strong monopolism of the information, which is not appreciated by the listener.


U nderstanding Japanese

Yo indicates that information belongs to the speaker (Kamio 1990). How­ ever, this statement needs to be further explained for learners to understand what types o f information can be declared to belong to the speaker. In general, yo is required to present the following features o f information. [1] [2] [3]

Information which the Listener does know (and asks for) and the Speaker knows. Information about the Speaker's absolute uchi members. Information which the Speaker assumes belongs to the Speaker only.

[1 ]is information delivered in situations such as showing the way, instructions, responding to enquires in public (such as information centres or offices). [2] is more straightforward. Any information about the speaker's absolute uchi mem­ bers belongs to the speaker, unless the speaker intends to be indifferent to his/ her family members. [3] is information containing the speaker’s judgements , emotion, and permission. Examples in (3-78) indicate each o f the information types ,[ 1 ] - [3]. (3-78) [ 1 ]

A :駅はどっちですか。 B :この道をまっすぐ行くと、すぐ右です主。 A: Eki wa dotchi desu ka. station Top which wav Polite Q B: Kono michi o massugu iku to, sugu migi desu yo. this street Acc straightaway go Conj just right Polite M (A: Which way to the station? B: If you go straight along this street, you’ll find it on your right.)



Imooto wa ima amerika ni sun-de-iru-n-desu yo. younger sister Top now America in live-TE-Prog-Nomi-Polite M (My sister is living in the USA.) [3]

いやだなあ。 そんなこと言うのやめて主。

Iyada naa. Sonna koto unfavourable M such thing (Disgusting. Don’t say that.)

iu-no yame-te yo. say-Nomi stop-please M



Regarding [1 ]and [3], the content o f information should be scrutinised to allow yo to occur, because yo cannot be used in a direct form to convey a message which belongs to the public. Kamio (1990: 53f) gives the following examples which are not acceptable in a direct form with (3 -7 9 )? ? ? ブ ッ シ ュ が 日 本 に 来 る よ 。 ??? Busshu ga nihon ni kuru yo. Bush Nom Japan to come M (Bush is coming to Japan.) ? ? ? イタリアで大地震があったよ。 ??? Itaria de dai-jishin ga at-ta yo. Italy in big-earthquake Nom happen-Pst M (There was a big earthquake in Italy.) In English, information from the news can be structured in a direct form, i.e. the form which does not contain hearsay terms (e.g. I hear that...) or terms of assumption (e.g. seem, appear). In Japanese, on the other hand, such informa­ tion is hardly structured in a direct form. (3-79) shows that the information has the nature o f world news, which can hardly be the speaker's territory o f infor­ mation only. Information on the news is supposed to belong to the general. Therefore, yo cannot be directly construed in a sentence which contains a generally known fact. (3-79) may be uttered between news press professionals because they di­ rectly deal with such information. Kamio explains that if the examples in (379) are uttered in normal conversation, they give the impression that the speaker monopolises the information, and declares it to belong to the speaker. These examples should be restructured with a term expressing hearsay or assump­ tion as shown in (3-80). (3 -8 0 ) ブ ッ シ ュ が 日 本 に 来 る ん だ っ て / 来 る ら し い よ 。 Busshu ga nihon ni kuru-n-dat-te/kuru-rasnn Y°Bush Nom Japan to come-Nomi-DA-I hear/come-seem M (Bush is coming to Japan, I hear/it seems like it.)


U nderstanding Japanese

イ タ リ ア で 大 地 震 が あ っ た っ て 聞 い た よ /あ っ た そ う だ ね 。 Itaria de dai-jishin ga at-tat-te Italy in big-earthquake Nom occur-Pst-TE

kii-ta I hear-Pst

yo/at-ta-sooda ne. M/occur-Pst-I hear M

(There was a big earthquake in Italy, so I heard/1 hear.) On the other hand, the examples in (3-78) do not need hearsay terms or terms o f assum ption.[1 ]in (3-78), if uttered in an indirect form, indicates that the speaker is not sure o f the direction to the station. If the speaker is certain that the information requested by the other is correct, yo has to occur in a direct form. If [2] in (3-78) is structured in an indirect form, it will give the impression that the speaker is not concerned about his/her sibling, or is not paying due psychological consideration to his/her absolute uchi member. Absolute uchi members are always treated as the same as the speaker unless there is a par­ ticular reason for not doing so. The information about absolute uchi members always belongs to the speaker, and therefore ア〇 occurs in a direct form. [3] grammatically does not allow an indirect form because the informa­ tion is the speaker^ direct request. Ne instead o iy o can occur in this context although the former sounds more diplomatic when asking another to to stop something,

is a more direct prohibition than ne.

In Japanese, the content o f information must be taken into consideration in the use o f yo. The more the nature o f information is known as hearsay, it is more likely to be structured in an indirect form. The speaker's psychological judgement o f his/her situation in relation to the information and o f the listener counts when determining the occurrence o f direct or indirect forms.

3.9. Summary Sociological studies o f Japanese society often refer to the uchi and soto dis­ tinction which determines one^ social behaviours to others. This distinction also extensively determines linguistic behaviours in the language. In other



words, linguistic terms entail where the speaker is situated, and what relation in an utterance the speaker has with the listener and a third person. The Japanese language is said to be quite pragmatically oriented. In spite o f certain rigid grammatical rules in the language, language structure and selection o f grammatical terms are driven by the speaker's psychological and/ or social conditions. Also, the speaker’s deictic positions determine language structure. Pragmatic factors foster language construction. The essential crux which synthesises the above mentioned three types of uchi, i.e. the psychological, social and deictic uchi, is the speaker^ orientation. The speaker is situated as a central focus from which language structure is directed by the uchi/soto relationship. Therefore, language construction is not a mere syntactic arrangement with grammatical rules. The Speaker^ view, and his/her social or psychological relationship with persons described are inevitably involved in linguistic realisation, and even determine the selection of a certain grammatical term in a structure.

Notes 1

Asking a favour can be expressed in kenjoo as well as sonkei styles. The former is presented as, for example, -te-itadak-e-mase-n ka, and the latter as -te-kudasai-mase-n ka.


In complex sentence, V'+ -tai in an embedded clause quite freely occurs with the first, second and third persons as its subjects. There seem to be some rule-governed aspects o f this phenomenon, though we will not go into the details here. Also, the discussion here excludes sentences which end with some auxiliaries such as -rashii (seem), -sooda (I hear), etc. -Tai can freely occur with these terms which remove restrictions on the usage of -tai.



4.0. Introduction This Chapter will examine the phenomena o f ellipsis. ‘Ellipsis’ is defined as 'the omission of units in a sentence9(for a further discussion on the definition o f ellipsis, see below). Issues arising from the study of ellipsis in theoretical linguistics have been of major interest, and various processes have been devel­ oped to explain the occurrence o f ellipsis in a given context. However, it is not the purpose o f this chapter to detail the viewpoints o f theoreticians, instead, the focus will be on pedagogical issues for learners. Learners understand that Japanese quite freely permits sentence parts to be omitted, but find it hard to identify which units can be safely omitted, what contexts allow omission, and why certain units may or may not be omitted in different contexts. Therefore, the examples selected are contrastive or "comparable with their counterparts in English, attempting to answer learners9questions o f how to achieve natural Japanese in relation to ellipsis. Mikami (1970) says that English presents quite self-sufficient sentences while Japanese is heavily dependent on situations where utterances occur, and allows many units to be omitted. Hinds (1986) also contrasts English with Japanese, asserting that Japanese is a more situational language than English. No utterance stands alone. Every utterance is intertwined with its linguis­ tic and/or extra-linguistic contexts where each utterance occurs, and its inter­ pretation depends on those contexts. Also, one utterance interlocks the other, giving constraints on the selection o f units to achieve coherent messages in conversation. Therefore, all utterances in every language are situation depen­


U nderstanding Japanese

dent. For example, the utterance T m all right9is interpreted in many ways in different situations. It may be ‘I can do it’ when the speaker is asked if he/she is confident to win a certain competition. It may be i have recovered from illness’ if the question is about the speaker’s well-being. It may also be ‘I have been attended’ if the shopkeeper asked^ ‘Have you been served?’ Therefore, the utterance 'Fm all right5is not appropriately interpreted without considering the situation where the speaker is placed. Therefore, both English and Japanese are equally situational. However, a closer look at these languages from the viewpoint of sentence structuring will disclose a major reason why Mikami and Hinds contrast English with Japanese, and emphasise the latter as more situational. The reader is already familiar with ellipsis in Japanese sentence structure. For example, the omission of watashi (myself) in conversation is quite common unless the speaker wants to contrast him/herself with others for some reason (discussed in Chapter 2). This is because given the situation that presents two (or more) interlocutors who take turns in conversation, they mutually understand that it is the speaker (watashi) who talks about him/herself. This mutual knowledge (= pragmatic information) is entailed in sentence structure by using ellipsis. In other words, structural rules in Japanese are faithful to this pragmatic situation, or what is known via a pragmatic situation is not linguistically stated (although it should be noted that not every case o f mutual knowledge invites ellipsis: See Endnote which explains the correlation between mutual knowledge and ellipsis). En­ glish, on the other hand, presents the subject position despite the mutual knowl­ edge, i.e. its grammar demands the presence o f a subject regardless o f such pragmatic information. Extra-linguistic contexts may provide mutual knowledge between interlocutors that an utterance which does not construct a perfect sentence may be readily understood via this mutual knowledge. For example, Boku wa koohii rfa’, which is uttered at a coffee shop, does not mean ‘I am coffee’. It is interpreted as ‘I would like to have coffee' However, without a given situation, this utterance does not make any sense. The same utterance in different contexts is



interpreted in various ways. It may be 41 want to buy coffee,541 ordered coffee, but you broughttea,’ o r 41 like coffee (better than other drinks),. Therefore, the interpretation o f Boku wa koohii da entirely relies on the situation where this utterance occurs. English also witnesses examples as those above, but more frequently gives strict grammatical rules for construction o f self-contained sentences. For example, the grammatical subject in English is obligatory (except in imperative forms) regardless o f situational contexts, and sentence forms quite rigidly require arguments o f a verb (e.g. subject, object and complement) to occur in order to construe a grammatical sentence. Japanese, on the other hand, allows many units to be omitted or to be incomplete as far as given situations are mutually understood, linguistically or extra-linguistically. This is why Japanese may be considered to be more faithfully situational than English. However, this does not necessarily mean that units in Japanese sentences can be freely omitted. Although the basic idea o f ellipsis is that what is mutually understood can be omitted in a context, there are certain rules and constraints to the phenomena o f ellipsis. Also the domain o f ellipsis is fairly limited. Omission o f units is not always ellipsis, and certain criteria are needed regarding omission o f units as ellipsis. Therefore, tincompleteness, in struc­ ture is not always regarded as 'ellipsis9. In this Chapter, examples o f ellipsis are selected from learners’ errors to explain the background o f ellipsis. There are three sections; syntactic ellipsis (4.1), pragmatic ellipsis (4.2) and ellipsis-looking sentences (4.3). The last section is not ellipsis in a strict sense, but is included in this because it presents an interesting contrast to English. Before examining types o f ellipsis, it is necessary to further discuss the definition o f ellipsis. As said before, ellipsis is defined as ‘the omission of elements from a construction.,However, not every lack o f information in an utterance is called ellipsis. Ellipsis is limited to the omission o f units which are arguments o f a given verb. As discussed in 1 . 1 . 1 arguments o f a verb contribute to the basic sentence form, functioning as subject, object or comple­


U nderstanding Japanese

ment in a sentence. Therefore, ellipsis is an instance o f incompleteness o f a basic sentence form. For example, (4-1)

A :遊んでいるよ。 B :だ れ が ? A: Ason-de-iru yo. play-TE-Prog M B: Dare ga? who Nom (A: (j) is playing. B: Who?)

In this dialogue, the person B feels that some information is lacking in person utterance (except when both interlocutors observe the same person playing). In this case, the subject position in the sentence uttered by Person A is elliptic. On the other hand, (4-2) A : 太 郎 が 遊 ん で い る よ 。 B :だ れ と ? A: Taroo ga ason-de-iru yo. Taro Nom play-TE-Prog M B: Dare to? who with (A: Taro is playing. B: with who?) In this dialogue, although Person B requires further information, the sentence A cannot be considered to be elliptic. The information which is required by Person B is additional to the complete sentence A, and is syntactically consid­ ered to be an adjunct to the sentence. How about the following dialogue? (4-3)

A :太郎が遊んでいるよ。 B :どこで? A: Taroo ga ason-de-iru yo. Taro Nom play-TE-Prog M



B: Doko de? where at (A: Taro is playing. B: Where?) The decision o f whether or not the sentence A is elliptic depends on whether the verb asobu (to play) is admitted to take the locative complement (the place where someone plays) as one o f its arguments (to form the basic sentence). Because Japanese is quite freely elliptic without giving the impression that sentences are not complete, it is quite difficult to specify how many arguments each verb needs to form its basic sentence. Compared with (4-2), (4-3) is more likely to give the impression that something is missing, but is not so obviously elliptic as (4 -1 ).I personally judge that (4-3) is not elliptic and the required element (where Taro is playing) is an adjunct to the basic sentence. In other words, the verb asobu (to play) is judged as requiring only one argument ( = subject position) to constitute its basic sentence form. However, there is no material evident to be for and against this judgement. Having admitted that there are grey areas between ellipsis and non-ellipsis in a sentence, this chapter will maintain the basic idea of ellipsis as a phenom­ enon which lacks elements in the basic sentence form. It is often said that elliptic elements are recoverable from the given context (e.g. Halliday & Hasan 1976:145; Kuno 1978: 8; Hinds 1982:11).However, it is not always true that every elliptic element is recoverable. ‘Recoverability’ depends on a neighbouring linguistic context where the same unit as the omitted one should be available. On the other hand, many examples of ellipsis occur without linguistic pre-contexts. Pragmatic information such as mutual knowl­ edge, and a common scene observed by interlocutors, will provide a sufficient trigger for ellipsis. Elliptic units via pragmatic information are not recoverable in a strict sense because there are no preceding linguistic units which are identified with the elliptic units. Although missing information (not units) is recognised and comprehended via interlocutors’ inferences extracted from given pragmatic information, it remains the property of pragmatic features, but cannot


U nderstanding Japanese

be linguistically recoverable. For example, (4_4) (showing the camera to another interlocutor) ね え 、 見 て !買 っ ち ゃ っ た 。

Nee, mi-te! Kat-chat-ta. well look buy-happen to-Pst (Look, (I) bought (it).) In (4-4) kat-chat-ta (bought) is a sentence, missing the subject and the object. Although the omitted elements are understood mutually between the inter­ locutors due to their sharing situation, the elements cannot be syntactically recovered in a strict sense because there are a number of possible reconstructed sentences; a few o f them are shown below. (4 -5 )このカメラを僕、買っちゃった。 Kono kamera o boku, kat-chat-ta. this camera Acc I buy-happen to-Pst (This camera, I bought.) 君に見せているカメラね、僕 、買っちゃった。

Kimi ni mi-se-te-iru kamera ne, boku, kat-chat-ta. you to see-Caus-TE-Prog camera M I buy-happen to-Pst (The camera (I) am showing to you, I bought.) ここにあるカメラ、僕が買っちゃった。

Koko ni aru kamera, boku ga kat-chat-ta. here at exist camera I Nom buy-happen to-Pst (The camera here, I bought.) Although the basic information (i.e. the speaker’s fundamental intention) conveyed by (4-4) is the same between all the sentences in (4-5), it is not possible to achieve the precise recovery of the elliptic sentence in (4-4). Infor­ mation is fully conveyed pragmatically (or situationally), but it is irrelevant to syntactic realisation (i.e. its exact linguistic construction). As will be shown below, the reason the discussion on ellipsis is divided into ‘syntactic’ and ‘pragmatic’ is that the former type o f ellipsis can recover its omitted elements from a previous context, but that the latter largely cannot.



Pragmatic information is mutually recognised (thus, ellipsis occurs), but its syntactic realisation is not possible in a strict sense, i.e. i t s


cannot be achieved. Also, not every element that is mutually understood can be omitted always. As shown in the following sections, there are certain constraints on ellipsis, and certain elements are required to occur even when they may be mutually understood.

4.1. Syntactic ellipsis Syntactic ellipsis is the phenomenon that omitted elements are syntactically parallel to their antecedents in the previous linguistic context. In other words, omitted elements are fully recoverable by searching the same elements (called ‘antecedents’) in the previous context. For example, (4-6)

John saw the film, but Mary did not.

In (4-6), the latter clause omits 4see the film , which is recovered from the previous clause. The two clauses are parallel syntactically (although the latter includes the negator 'not9); thus the process o f recovering the omitted elements is conducted by obtaining their syntactically parallel context. This is called a ‘grammatical deletion’ which guarantees the precise syntactic reconstruction o f an elliptic sentence, or technically called ‘antecedent-contained deletion’ (Fiengo & May 1994: 237). In Japanese, syntactic ellipsis occurs around the given verb. For example, (4 -7 )ジョンはその映画を見たが、 メアリーは見なかった。 Jon wa sono eiga o mi-ta ga, Mearii wa mi-nakat-ta. John Top that film Acc see-Pst Conj Mary Top see-Neg-Pst (John saw the film, but Mary did not.) (4-8)

A :もう朝御飯は食べましたか。 B :はい、 食べました。 A: Moo asa-gohan wa tabe-mashi-ta ka. already morning-meal Top eat-Polite-Pst Q


U nderstanding Japanese

B: Hai, tabe-mashi-ta. yes eat-Polite-Pst (A: Have (you) eaten breakfast? B: Yes, (I) have.)

In (4-7), the omitted element is sono eiga o (the film) which occurred in the previous clause. This parallelism is similar to English ellipsis although Japanese ellipsis maintains the verb in the second clause. In (4-8), the Utterance B omits the object (asagohan = breakfast) o f the verb. In Japanese, syntactic ellipsis applies to arguments o f a sentence, pro­ vided the previous and omitted contexts are in the 4whether-or-not, relation­ ship (adjuncts automatically drop in the next context). For example, in (4-8), Utterance A questions whether or not Person B ate breakfast. She/he answers 'yes.9The utterances, A and B, are in the 4whether-or-nof relationship. There­ fore, syntactic ellipsis applies to the arguments of the sentence (the object asa gohan is omitted) while maintaining the verb in Utterance B. In a similar way, in (4-7), the clause ‘John saw the film ’ is syntactically parallel to the clause 'M ary did not.?Although these two clauses are not a direct 4whether-or-not, relationship, the former implicitly poses the question whether or not a new referent ‘Mary’ saw the film. The answer is ‘Mary did not see the film/Then, syntactic ellipsis applies to the arguments in the previous clause, which is presented in the second clause as in (4-7) while maintaining the verb. Syntactic ellipsis Rule 1 : Syntactically parallel ellipsis occurs when the previous context containing antecedents, and the follow ing context containing elliptic elements are in the /whether-or-not/ relationship. The verb is reiterated, and its arguments (and adjuncts) will be omitted.

Dealing with

verbs is somewhat different from Rule 1 .These verbs

are thalf-repeated,, i.e. only -suru is reiterated. For example, (4 -9 )学生の中には、 よく勉強する人もいれば、




Gakusei no nakani wa, yoku benkyoosuru hito mo ire-ba, student of among Top well study person exist-Conj shi-nai hito mo iru. do-Neg person exist (Some students study hard, but others do not.) (mo...mo... - These particles are correlated to each other, indicating 4On one hand, and on the other hand...*) 大学を受験したくてもお金がなくてできない人がいる。

Daigaku o jukenshi-taku-temo o-kane ga university Acc have exams-want-Conj Hon-money Nom naku-te deki-nai have not-TE can-Neg

hito person

ga iru. Nom exist

(Some people cannot have an entrance exam for a university even if they want to because they do not have money.) A :昨 日 の 会 議 に 出 席 し ましたか。 B• . ち ょ っ と 遅 れ ま し た が 、 ま し た よ 。 A: Kinoo no kaigi ni shussekishi-mashi-ta ka. yesterday of meeting at be present-Polite-Pst Q B: Chotto okure-mashi-ta ga, shi-mashi-ta yo. a little be late-Polite-Pst Conj do-Polite-Pst Q (A: Did (you) attend the meeting yesterday? B: (I) was a little late, but (I) did (attend it).) The important point in Rule 1 is the 4whether-or-not, relationship between the previous and elliptic contexts. If the context is a mere yes-no question, units in a sentence cannot be freely omitted. For example, (4-10) A : 日 本 語 は 日 本 で 勉 強 し た ん で す か 。 B 1:* は い 、 し た ん で す 。 B 2 :はい、 日本でしたんです。 B 3 :はい、 そうです。 A: Nihon-go wa nihon de benkyooshi-ta-n-desu ka. Japan-language Top Japan in study-Pst-Nomi-Polite Q B 1:* Hai, shi-ta-n-desu. ves do-Pst-Nomi-Polite


U nderstanding Japanese

B2: Hai, yes B3: Hai, yes

nihon de shi-ta-n-desu. Japan in do-Pst-Nomi-Polite soo desu. so Polite

(A: As to the Japanese language, did (you) study (it) in Japan? Bl:*Yes, (I) did. B2: Yes, (I) did in Japan. B3: Yes, that’s right.) Apparently the question in (4-10) is a yes-no question similar to (4-8). How­ ever, in (4-10), the question aims to confirm that Japan is where Person B studied Japanese. It does not ask whether or not Person B studied Japanese, but confirms the location (Japan). Therefore, unlike (4-7) - (4-9), (4-10) indi­ cates that Person A already knows that Person B studied Japanese. When the focus is not on the verb but any other element, the question requires that the answer confirms the content in the question. Therefore, as an alternative, B3 is possible in this context. (4-11) A : 子 供 の と き か ら 記 者 に な り た か っ た ん で す か 。 B 1:* は い 、 な り た か っ た ん で す 。 B 2 :はい、子供のときからなりたかったんです。 B 3 :はい、 そうです。 A:

Kodomo no toki-kara tasha m nan-takat-ta-n-desu ka. child of time-since journalist become-want-Pst-Nomi-Polite Q B 1:* Hai, nari-takat-ta-n-desu. yes become-want-Pst-Nomi-Polite B2: Hai, kodomo no toki-kara nari-takat-ta-n-desu. yes child of time-since become-want-Pst-Nomi-Polite B3: Hai, soo desu. yes so Polite

(A: Did (you) want to become a journalist as a child? B1:* Yes, (I) wanted. B2: Yes, (I) wanted as a child. B3: Yes, thafs right.) In a similar way, the question in (4-11)focuses on ‘since you were a child ’ ,



implying that Person A already knows that Person B wanted to be a journalist, or that she/he is a journalist at present. Because kodomo no toki-kara (since (I) was a child) is a new focus, it cannot be omitted in Utterance B. Therefore, B1 is not acceptable. B2 is correct as it maintains the new focus and is faithful to Rule 1 ,although in reality, B3 is more frequently uttered for its economical reason. To explain examples such as (4-10) and (4-11),Kuno (1978) uses the terms *old information, and 'new information,; ellipsis applies to older infor­ mation. The term 'focus5in the above explanation is equivalent to Kuno^ 'new information.’ For example, in (4-10) the fact that Person B studied Japanese is already known to Person A, which is old information; thus, the arguments in the sentence containing this fact can be omitted, and only the verb is reiterated (Rule 1 ).The statement 'in Japan9 is not yet known to Person A, which is considered to be new information; thus, the units which describe the location cannot be omitted in the answer. Rule 2: If the yes-no question containing a focus aims to confirm whether the selected element in the focus is right, this element cannot be omitted in the answer.

In Chapter 1, the thematic subject which is indicated by wa was discussed. We have learned that because wa can refer to a discourse level (i.e. more than one sentence), NP + wa in the subsequent sentences can be omitted. This applies to other thematic subjects without wa. The thematic subject means 4a controller o f focus’ or ‘a focus o f attention’ which holds the highest mental persistence in a text. Garrod & Sanford (1988: 533) say that ‘the thematic subject, once identified, will be treated as a key entity in the explicit focus representation, and so be readily available as a default refe^ence.^ In Japanese, once the thematic subject is set up (or recognised by interlocutors), it is omitted in a subsequent context (indicated by 4 (/> ,= zero anaphora; See 1.1.2.). For example,


U nderstanding Japanese

(4 -1 2 ) キ ャ ベ ツ と ニ ン ジ ン は 、 細 か く き っ て 、 4

軽 く い た め て 、 酢を冶


Kyabetsu to nrnjin wa komakaku kit-te, cabbage and carrot Top fine cut-Conj su o vinegar Acc

karuku itame-te, light fiy-Conj

sukoshi kake-masu. a little pour-Polite

(Cut a cabbage and a carrot into small pieces, fry (0 = them) lightly, and pour a little vinegar ( = over them).) In (4-12), the thematic subject is indicated by wa, thus, kyabetsu to ninjin (cabbage and carrot) continues to be a focal point in the whole context; therefore, this unit can be omitted in the subsequent clauses. In Japanese, the ante­ cedent, which becomes a thematic subject, can be an elliptic element in the following context whatever grammatical position it occupies. The clause karuku itame-te (to fry lightly) misses the unit kyabetsu to ninjin as a grammatical object, and the last clause misses the same unit as a complement. In the following example, the thematic suDject is not marked with wa, but the speaker establishes the unit ringo (apple) as a thematic subject in his/her mind. (4 -1 3 ) こ の 間 、



すっぱくて、 冶

とても食べられなかったわ。 だから冶捨てちゃった。

Kono aida, ringo o ano mise de kat-ta-n-da-keredo, the other day apple Acc that shop at buy-Pst-Nomi-DA-Conj 小

suppaku-te, ホ totemo tabe-rare-nakat-ta wa. Dakara sour-Conj hardly eat-can-Neg-Pst M therefore

sute-chat-ta. throw away-happen to-Pst

(The other day, (I) bought apples at that shop, but ( (^ = they) were sour, so, (I) could not eat ( (^> = them). So, (I) threw ( = them) away.) In (4-13), inferences must be used in order to identify the thematic subject; only then is it possible to pinpoint which unit is missing in the subsequent clauses. In this respect, although ellipsis o f a thematic subject is a syntactic



phenomenon due to the presence o f an antecedent in the initial clause, the actual identification o f elliptic units is steered through inferences. In (4-13), the first ellipsis occurs in the grammatical subject position, the second and third in the object position. The following sentence is an extract of a learner^ error. (4-14) * 最 初 論 文 を 新 聞 社 に 送 り ま す と 、 時 々 新 聞 社 は そ れ を 掲 載 し ま し た。

* Saisho ronbun o shinbunsha ni okuri-masu to, at the beginning article Acc newspaper company to send-Polite Conj tokidoki shinbunsha wa sore o keisaishi-mashi-ta. sometimes newspaper co. Top that Acc publish-Polite_Pst (At the beginning, (I) sent articles to the newspaper company, and sometimes the newspaper company published them.) (4-14) is not acceptable for three reasons. First, when the conjunction to is used, the preceding verb should be a plain form. Second, the structure o f the main clause should be rearranged as: 時々新聞社はそれを掲載してくれました。

tokidoki shinbunsha wa sore o sometimes newspaper company Top it Acc keisaishi-te-kure-mashi-ta. publish-TE-(give)-Polite-Pst (Sometimes the newspaper company published it (for me).) As discussed in Chapter 2, when the speaker^ experience is described, the structure o f a sentence should be arranged with the speaker in the centre. Therefore, the directional complex verb, V' + -te-kureru (directed toward the speaker) should be used. Ideally, this sentence should be rearranged to bring to the fore the most important part which the speaker wants to talk about; 'her/his articles is the focus of this statement, therefore:


U nderstanding Japanese


tokidoki ronbun wa keisaisa-re-mashi-ta. sometimes paper Top publish-Pass-Polite-Pst (Some articles were published.) The third error is the redundancy o f the units in the main clause. The focal point o f this utterance is ronbun (articles), which must be established as a thematic subject. The whole context is arranged around this thematic subject; the second clause allows it to be omitted as a grammatical subject. Therefore, (4-14) should be rewritten as: (4-14)’ 最 初 論 文 を 新 聞 社 に 送 る と 、 時 々 掲 載 さ れ ま し た 。 Saisho ronbun o shinbunsha ni okuru at the beginning article Acc newspaper co. to send

to, Conj

tokiaoki keisaisa-re-mashi-ta. sometimes publish-Pass-Polite-Pst (At the beginning (I) sent articles to the newspaper company. Some­ times, (my articles) were published.) Rule 3: A thematic subject, whether or not it is marked with wa, may be omitted in subsequent clauses or sentences regardless of its gram­ matical role in each clause/sentence. The following are further examples o f common errors by learners. The units in brackets should be omitted because they are thematic subjects in the context. (4-15) A : ホ ー ム ス テ イ 先 の 御 両 親 は ど ん な 仕 事 を な さ っ て い ま し た か 。 B :( ホ ー ム ス テ イ 先 の 両 親 は ) 英 語 の 教 師 で す 。 A: Hoomusutei saki no go-ryooshin wa donna shigoto o home stay place of Hon-parent Top what job Acc nasat-te-i-mashi-ta ka. do(Hon)-TE-Prog-Polite-Pst Q B: (Hoomusutei home stay kyooshi teacher

saki no ryooshin wa) place of parent Top

desu. Cop(Polite)

eigo English

no of



( A: What job are your home-stay parents doing? B: (They) are English teachers.) (4-16) A : 私 は ス ク リ プ ト を 楽 し い 方 法 で す る よ う に し て い ま す 。 た と え ば、 シャワーをあびながら歌ったり、 ジョギングをしながらし たりします。

B : そ れ な ら 簡 単 に (ス ク リ プ ト を )覚 え ら れ ま す ね 。 A : ( ス ク リ プ ト を )読 む だ け で は つ ま ら な い で す 。 楽 し く し た ほ う がいいです。

A: Watashi wa sukunputo o tanoshu I i’op script Acc enjovable

hoohoo method

suru-yooni-shi-te-i- masu. Tatoeba, shawaa o do-try-ao-TE-Prog-Polite for example shower Acc utat-tari, sing-Conj

jogingu jogging

de with abi-nagara pour-Conj

o shi-nagara shi-tari shi-masu. Acc do-Conj do-Conj do-Polite

B: Sore-nara kantannni (sukunputo o) oboe-rare-masu that-Conj easily script Acc memorise-can-Polite

ne. M

A: (Sukunputo o) yomu dake de wa tsumaranai desu. script Acc read only Top boring Polite Tanoshiku sm-ta-hoo enjoyable do-Pst-way

ga 11 desu. Nom good Polite

(A: As for me, (I) try to memorise scripts in enjoyable ways. For example, by singing in the shower, or while jogging, (I try to memorise them). B: (You) can memorise (scripts) easily in such ways. A: It is boring just to read (scripts). Ifs better to do in an enjoyable way.

4.2. Pragmatic ellipsis Pragmatic ellipsis deals with omission of units triggered by pragmatic infor­ mation. For example, mutual knowledge between the interlocutors, observable scenes which are presented before the interlocutors, and shared experience are typical examples o f pragmatic information. Such information is merely recognised by interlocutors without providing linguistic pre-contexts; thus syntactically parallel structures are not found around elliptic sentences. There­


U nderstanding Japanese

fore, pragmatic ellipsis may not be concerned with the precise recovery o f a sentence structure. This is because ellipsis is operated only through pragmatic information, and no linguistic clue to precisely recover omitted elements is provided. Pragmatic ellipsis may not recover a linguistically precise sentence, but guarantees a sentence form. For example, (4-17) A : お い し そ う ね 。 B :そうね。 買ってあげようか。 A: Oishi-soo ne. delicious-look M B: Soo ne. Kat-te-age-yoo ka. so M buy-TE-(give)-will Q (A: (They)100k delicious. B: (They) do. Shall(I) buy (some for you)?) (4-17) implies a scene where two interlocutors observe the same item (probably cakes or something to eat). Utterance A omits the grammatical subject because the pragmatic situation allows it to be omitted (i.e. the interlocutors mutually know that they are observing the same item; this situation allows the grammatical subject to be omitted). The second utterance in Utterance B omits the grammatical subject and object. The omitted object refers to the item which both interlocutors are observing. The subject can be readily omitted for two reasons. First, the situation is a conversational interaction where it is not necessary to refer to the speaker. Second, the auxiliary, -yoo (shall) indicates that the action is the speaker’s will. Although Utterances A and B cannot recover their precise syntactic struc­ tures, they present syntactic slots which may be potentially filled. In other words, these slots may be filled with linguistic units in other contexts. The basic sentence form is constructed around a given verb, and the verb already indicates how many arguments it takes; therefore, Utterances A and B present their basic syntactic structure in which arguments are not realised on the surface, i.e. they are elliptic in actual utterances. Syntactic structure holding slots,



whether they are filled or not in reality, are called ‘underlying structure., The basic sentence structure provides its underlying structure which contains a certain number o f slots to be filled. For example, the subject position in the underlying structure o f Utterance A is omitted or not filled; thus, it is phonologically nil. In this respect, pragmatic ellipsis must be differentiated from ellipsis­ looking utterances. Utterances in reality are not always perfectly constructed. There are a number o f utterances which violate grammatical rules, reiterate the same units in a sentence, and lack necessary units for no reason. The grammar o f a language cannot explain all linguistic phenomena; it offers the maximum systematic patterns, most common features which recursively occur, and rules which may apply to as many phenomena as possible. Tms is also true for ellipsis. Ellipsis does not encompass all phenomena presenting a lack o f units in a sentence. As defined earlier, ellipsis must conform to the omission o f arguments in the basic sentence form, and guarantee a (potential) flilly-fledged structure. For example, by observing a fire, a speaker shouts, toy/ ぬ ! ( Fire !), which appears to be pragmatically elliptic. However, this utterance does not offer its underlying structures as pragmatic ellipsis does in (4-17). As will be further discussed in 4.3, the utterance kaji da\ does not guarantee its potential sen­ tence structure, and should be treated as it stands, i.e. it is a perfect utterance on its own (although it does not form a normal ‘sentence’ (= a subject + a predicate)). Ellipsis which is primarily triggered for social or psychological reasons is also included in pragmatic ellipsis. In other words, pragmatic ellipsis may or may not occur, depending on pragmatic situations where utterances occur. For example, this section will deal with social taboos which do not allow personal pronouns (kare = he, kanojo = she, anata = you, karera = they) to be used in certain social situations. Ellipsis o f these personal pronouns is not derived from a grammatical arrangement (e.g. syntactic parallel structure in a previ­ ous context), but purely from a social rule in Japanese society, although


U nderstanding Japanese

those pronouns are anaphorically related to their antecedent referents (thus, called 'pro-nouns9). Therefore, personal pronouns may be freely used when there are no social constraints in a given context (such as novels). One may say that for the same reason above, the omission o f a thematic subject in Rule 3 should be included in pragmatic ellipsis. Indeed^ a thematic subject is not grammatically but pragmatically controlled, i.e. it is a pragmatic feature (inference) which identifies a thematic subject. However, ellipsis o f a thematic subject is considered to be a syntactic process for two reasons. First, it refers to a syntactically parallel structure in a previous context. Second, unlike ellipsis of personal pronouns, ellipsis of a thematic subject occurs fairly constantly until another thematic subject is introduced. This means that ellipsis o f a thematic subject normally occurs regardless o f its pragmatic situations (unless another thematic subject is introduced). Therefore, having admitted certain pragmatic features involved in Rule 3, ellipsis o f a thematic subject should be judged as syntactically controlled.

4.2.1. Personal pronouns and their ellipsis This subsection will discuss ellipsis o f personal pronouns, and examine their characteristics. The discussion o f the pronoun watashi (I) is excluded here as this was already explained in Chapter 2. In social interaction, the use o f anata (you), kare (he), kanojo (she) and karera (they) requires a lot o f care. These pronouns are normally quite re­ stricted in their use due to social constraints (Kuroda 1965; Hinds 1975,1978, 1982; Clancy 1980,1992). Hinds (1975) provides a list of social settings where third person pronouns are not likely to be used. More examples and further explanations are added to Hinds9list below. (1)


Personal pronouns are not used when referring to family members. Family members are usually referred to as their family roles such as chichi (father), ane (older sister) throughout the whole context. Or, zero anaphora (units omitted) occurs after family roles are introduced. Small children are not referred to by using third person pronouns whether







they are family members or other social members. For example, parents may be liberal enough to call their children kare or kanojo, but not until they are fully grown. It is quite common that parents refer to their children as kono ko (this child) or ano ko (my child we are talking about) no matter how old they become; otherwise, their proper names are used throughout the context, or zero anaphora is continuously used after the proper names are introduced. Personal pronouns are not used when referring to those who the speaker wishes to or is obliged to show respect to because they are senior in status or age. When honorifics are concomitant, it is a social taboo to use personal pronouns. People in this category are referred to by using their professional titles (e.g. sensei = teacher, kyooju = professor, shachoo = president), or proper names followed by -san (e.g. Tanaka-san). This also applies to con­ versational interaction when the speaker addresses the listener; referring to the latter’s title or name as if the latter were treated as a third person (but never addressing him/her as anata (you)). Kare (he) and kanojo (she) often have a special meaning in Japanese soci­ ety. They imply someone special such as a boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/ wife. Older generations may not use kare or kanojo when referring to their partners; these pronouns are more popular with younger generations. Celebrities and historical people quoted in a speech are not normally re­ ferred to by using personal pronouns. They are usually referred to by their proper names throughout the context, or otherwise, as zero pronouns through­ out the context. Those who have studied a historical person for long may refer to him/her as kare or kanojo, which gives the impression that they are familiar with him/her, having some special attachment to him/her. When the speaker refers to someone in a present interaction, personal pronouns such as kare or kanojo are not used. Either proper names or kono hito (this person) should be used.

In other words, personal pronouns are used less often, the greater the social or psychological distance is between the speaker and the person referred to. This also applies to family members who may be psychologically close to one another, but whose age difference may conform to their social distance. Apart from the above general rules, there are some further features o f the use o f personal pronouns though they may not be as universal as the above rules.


U nderstanding Japanese



Anata is more unlikely to be used between family members, though senior members may use it toward the junior (but never vice versa). It may be used between friends o f the same age group, depending on how close they are. In some provinces, anata is hardly even used between friends except when they have conflicts. Instead, proper names (or nick names) are reiterated, or alternatively zero anaphora is used. Kare and kanojo can be more often heard in situations where casual and egalitarian atmospheres are achieved. For example, in entertainment areas, shops for the young and casual parties, these third person pronouns may be readily admitted for use.

Let us look at some examples which are common errors by learners. (4-18)


*彼女は有名なピアニストで、 よく新聞にも載っていました。 Watashi wa Nakagawa sensei ni piano o narai-mashi-ta. I Top Nakagawa teacher from pianoAcc leam-Polite-Pst * Kanojo wa yuumeina pianisuto de, she Top famous pianist ni in

mo too

yoku shinbun Cop(Conj) often newspaper

not-te-i-mashi-ta. be referred-TE-Prog-Polite-Pst

(I learned piano from Ms Nakagawa. She is a famous pianist, and often referred to in the newspapers.)

The error in this utterance is derived from rule (3) above. Ms Nakagawa is the speaker^ teacher, and should be referred to in a respectful way. Kanojo (she) should be replaced by sensei (teacher). (4 -1 9 ) 僕 は 弟 が 一 人 い ま す 。 *彼 は テ ニ ス が 好 き で 週 に 三 回 練 習 に 行 っ て います。

Boku wa otooto ga hitori i-masu. *Kare wa tenisu I Top younger brother Nom one have-Polite he Top tennis ga suki-de shuu ni san-kai renshuu ni it-te-i-masu. Nom like-Conj week per three-times practice to go-TE-Prog-Polite (I have a younger brother. He likes tennis, and practises (it) three times a week.)



This occurs due to the violation o f rule (1). The speaker’s family members are seldom referred to by pronouns. Kare (he) in (4-19) should be replaced by otooto (younger brother) or zero anaphora. (4 -2 0 ) 日 本 の 歴 史 で 一 番 の 英 雄 は 、 江 戸 幕 府 を 創 っ た 徳 川 家 康 だ と 思 い ま す 。 *彼 は が ま ん 強 く て 最 後 ま で あ き ら め な か っ た の で 、 英 雄 だ と思うのです0

Nihon no rekishi de ichiban no eiyuu wa, Edo bakufti o tsukut-ta Japan of history in first of hero Top Edo Shogunate Acc make-Pst Tokugawa Ieyasu da to omoi-masu. *Kare wa gaman-zuyoku-te Tokugawa Ieyasu Cop Quote think-Polite he r 〇p patience-strong-Conj saigo made akirame-nakat-ta-node, eiyuu da to omou-no-desu. end till give up-Neg-Pst-Conj hero Cop Quote think-Nomi-Polite ((1) think that the greatest hero in Japanese history is Tokugawa Ieyasu, who established the Edo Shogunate. Because he was patient and never gave up till the end, (I) think that (he) is the hero.) This is an example which violates rule (5). Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun o f the Edo era, is a historical person. Referring to him as kare (he) gives the impression to the listener that the speaker monopolises this historical hero to his/her territory. Kare should be replaced by Ieyasu or zero anaphora. San is not attached to historical people or celebrities9names unless the speaker has had personal contact with them. This is because such people, whether existing or non-existing, are merely quoted in a narrative, remaining neutral to both the speaker and the audience (however, Royal families are exempted; they are categorised as in rule (3)). (4-21) 皆

さ ん 「人 生 の 出 会 い 」 の 時 間 で す 。 今 日 は 音 楽 家 の 方 を 三 人 お

招 き し て い ま す 。 ま ず は ジ ェ ー ン ホ ッ パ ー さ ん 。 *彼 女 は ピ ア ニ ス 卜で今演奏旅行でとても忙しい方です。

Mina-san ‘jinsei no deai’ no jikan desu. everyone life of encounter of time Polite Kyoo wa ongaku-ka no kata 〇 san-nin today Top music-player of person(Hon) Acc three-person


U nderstanding Japanese

o-maneki-shi-te-i-masu. Mazu wa Jeen Hoppaa-san. (Hon) invite (Hon)-TE-Prog-Polite first of all Jane Hopper * Kanojo wa pianisuto de ima ensoo ryokoo de she Top pianist Conj now performance tour due to totemo isogashii kata desu. very busy person(Hon) Cop(Polite) (Everyone, it’s time for ‘Encounter in Life.’ Today,(we) have invited three musicians. First, Jane Hopper. She is a pianist, and these days very busy with concert trips.) Kanojo (she) cannot be used in this context for two reasons. First, the setting is a public interview on TV (or radio), which requires the participants to use honorifics, whether or not the speaker is a friend o f Jane Hopper in reality. Thus, the use o f kanojo violates rule (3); when honorifics are concomitant, personal pronouns should be avoided. Second, the person called 4Jane Hopper5 is at present in the interview. The speaker should not refer to her as kanojo as this is impolite to her. This is violation o f rule (6). Kanojo should be replaced by kono kata (this person; kata = honorific form o f hito = person), or Hoppaasan. Because the speaker is introducing Jane Hopper to the audience while she is present, zero anaphora cannot be used in this utterance. (4 -2 2 ) 教

師 : 山田君はどうしたんですか。

生 徒 :* 先 生 、 彼 は 風 邪 で 休 み で す 。

Kyooshi: Yamada-kun wa doo-shi-ta-n-desu ka. teacher : Yamada Top how-do-Pst-Nomi-Polite Q Seito : * Sensei, kare wa kaze de yasumidesu. student : teacher he Top cold due to absent Polite (Teacher: Whafs happened to Yamada? Student: Miss, he is not present because (he has caught) a cold.) This is quite a common error. Learners assume that because Yamada is a class­ mate, kare (he) can be used. However, the setting is a public situation between teacher and student regardless o f the relationship between the speaker and Yamada. Therefore, Yamada should be exalted in the public situation. Kare



should be replaced by either zero anaphora or by Yamada-kun. Let us look at the following example, and examine the use of karera (they). (4 -2 3 ) 選 手 に な り た く て サ ッ カ ー 協 会 に 電 話 し た ん で す 。 *そ し た ら 彼 ら は、 選 手 に な る た め の テ ス ト が あ る か ら 、 テ ス ト を 受 け な さ い と 言ってくれたんです。

Senshu ni nari-taku-te plaver become-want-Conj

sakkaa kyookai soccer corporation

ni to

* Soshitara karera wa, senshu then they Top player

denwashi-ta-n-desu. phone-Pst-Nomi-Polite

ninaru-tame no tesuto ga aru kara, become-for of test Nom be held Conj uke-nasai have-(order)

to Quote

tesuto test

o Acc

it-te-kure-ta-n-desu. say-TE-(give)-Pst-Nomi-Polite

((1) wanted to be a player, so phoned up the soccer corporation. Then, they told me to have a test which will select players.) In English, ‘they’ can be used to imply ‘people in the soccer corporation’ as shown in the translation. This is a metaphoric use o f pronouns. It is quite common in English that places and organisations can be replaced by personal pronouns, referring to those who are actually involved in those places and organisations. In this respect, English pronouns are quite tolerant with the discrepancies between surface (linguistic) and underlying (real referential) phenom ena. In Japanese, on the other hanci Aarera cannot refer to a meta-

phorical referent. It has to be related to an antecedent which pinpoints actual human beings. Therefore, it is ungrammatical to use karera in (4-23) which was supposed to refer to ‘people in the soccer corporation.’ should be replaced by zero anaphora or kyookai (corporation) (the former is more natural). In written contexts, personal pronouns are more freely used. For example, a number of novels in modem Japanese liberally use personal pronouns. How­ ever, it all depends on different authors, styles and genres. For example, historical novels hardly use kare or kanojo (this is similar to rule (5) above). I examined 18 authors o f historical novels, and only one used personal pro­


U nderstanding Japanese

nouns. Depending on the author’s decision, the same author may use pronouns with differing frequencies. For example, I examined two novels written by the same author in which the protagonist is referred to as kare or kanojo, 41 times in one novel, but only once in another. Magazine articles which deal with politics and Japanese Royal family members do not use third person pronouns. Either proper names with sama or titles (e.g. heika = emperor, hidenka = princess) are used; otherwise, zero anaphora occurs when the referent becomes a thematic subject throughout the context. Interestingly, foreign Royal family members are occasionally referred to as kare and kanojo. For example, I examined two magazine articles referring to Princess Diana. Kanojo occurs 16 times compared with the proper name with the title or the title alone which occur 80 times in total (zero anaphora occurs 44 times). The third person pronoun is used especially when the writer or the interviewee describes his/her assumption of what the princess thinks or feels, or his/her inferred statement from the princess9deeds and words. A mere description o f Princess Diana and her circumstances invites proper names with the title or zero anaphora. In other words, kanojo occurs when the writer is psychologically involved in referring to Princess Diana. Whether in written or spoken contexts, personal pronouns in Japanese seem to have a special effect. There is some psychological involvement from the speaker^ viewpoint, but at the same time, some distance between the speaker and the person referred to is established as a barrier, which allows the speaker to step back to observe the person. Therefore, if a social or psychological distance is quite far or too close, personal pronouns are less likely to be used. The reader may wonder why personal pronouns in Japanese carry a number of social and psychological constraints. First, anata (you) in old Japanese was used to refer to a place far away, which was written as

彼 方

: the first

means 4far away9, the second 'place9{a- in modem Japanese is a demonstra­ tive, pointing out something away from both speaker and listener). This was eventually used to refer to a person o f high status (written as


( noble +



person). However, its frequent use has decreased its quality (which often hap­ pens in other languages, too; e.g. ‘good heavens’ has lost its ‘noble’ meaning in today9s English). Today, anata has become a social taboo in the context of polite language. Third person pronouns in modem Japanese were created as the result of the endeavour to translate European literature in the mid 19th century when Japan opened her gate to the rest o f the world. Before then, there was no equivalent pronoun to today’s third person pronouns. This may be one o f the reasons why modem novels which deal with scenes in foreign countries more frequently use third person pronouns. This also applies when referring to foreign Royal families. On the other hand, traditions in Japanese society have not allowed third person pronouns to be used liberally. Therefore, the historical background o f personal pronouns still casts a shadow on their use. While today they are more and more freely use 江 traditional settings and formal situations still give constraints on their use.

4.2.2. Non-complete sentences and implicature This subsection deals with utterances which omit main clauses, i.e. which end with only subordinate clauses, and the main message is left to the interlocutor's inference. What the speaker aims to achieve by uttering is not realised in linguistic units, but is inferred from a given pragmatic situation as well as some fragments o f the uttered units. The actual message is not extracted from the semantic meaning of a given utterence, but is inferred through a fragment o f linguistic clues and a given extra-linguistic (situational) context. This is called ‘implicature’. 'Implicature9is a term used in many areas o f pragmatics. For example, what is meant by an actual utterance going beyond an account of its (literal) meaning is a typical example o f implicature (e.g. The message 'This room is hot9may not be a mere description of the state o f the room, but may imply that the speaker wants somebody to open the window). Also, extra-linguistic contexts may give sufficient implicature in communication (e.g. The mention


U nderstanding Japanese

o f ‘this dressing’ by a cook to a waiter when the latter is taking the dish, means Take this dressing with that dish to the table9). The examples dealt with in this subsection show that implicature is extracted from both a fragment of linguistic clues and the interlocutor’s inference. Takahashi (1993) lists a number o f examples which show 'unspoken messages9through implicature. For example, he explains the usage o f kara (because). (4 -2 4 ) 、 、 、 あ た し 、 切 符 買 い ま す か ら 、 、 、 ... Atashi, kippu kai-masu kara,... I ticket buy-Polite Conj (I will buy tickets.) (4-25) A : 釣 り は い い か ら 、 、 、 B :こりやどうも。 A: Tsuri wa ii kara,... change Top no need Conj B: Korya doomo. this thanks (A: No need change, so.. (= Keep change) B: Well, thanks.) (NB: Both interlocutors in (4-25) are identified as males; tsuri and korya are normally male language.)

Kara in the contexts above functions to stop the other person^ activities. In (424), the speaker noticed that the other person was trying to buy a ticket (or both tickets), and then by uttering (4-24), she stops his/her behaviour, implying that she will buy tickets (or at least her own ticket). The rest of the sentence could be reconstructed as kawa-naku-te ii desuyo (no need to buy (them)). However, the complete sentence sounds quite imposing as if she were triumphing over the competition involved in the purchase o f tickets. Therefore, it is customary to leave the utterance incomplete as shown in (4-24). Kara also connotes some imposing manner, but because the speaker’s deed is beneficial or favourable toward the listener, imposing kindness is accepted as a politeness strategy.



In a similar way, in (4-25), kara stops Person B to give the change to Person A, which is accepted as a politeness strategy since giving the change is beneficial for Person B. The literal meaning o f Utterance A is 'I do not need the change, therefore,...9Its pragmatic implicature is 'Keep the change.9 If the utterance cannot suggest something beneficial or favourable for the listener, kara can seldom be used. Instead, node (since) must be used. For example, (4 -2 6 ) あ 、 す み ま せ ん 、 そ こ は 予 約 席 で す の で 、 、 A, sumimasen, soko wa yoyaku-seki desu node,... Ah excuse me that place l op reserved-seat Cop(Polite) Conj (Sorry, that is reserved...) (4 -27) 社 長 は す ぐ も ど り ま す の で 、 、 Shachoo wa sugu modori-masu node... president Top soon retum-Polite Conj (The president will return soon, so..) 社長はすぐもどりますけど、、

Shachoo wa sugu modori-masu kedo … president Top soon retum-Polite Conj (The president will return soon, but..) (4-26) implies that the customer cannot take the table which is reserved. This explanation is inconvenient for the customer, thus, node is used to avoid a strong prohibition o f the customer’s deed. Although a different message via a mere explanation o f a situation is also common in English, Japanese utter­ ances without conjunctions such as node sound cut-and-dried, and may be easily misunderstood as the speaker being apprehensive. In (4-27), the use of node implies that the speaker indirectly asks the visitor to wait for the president. On the other hand, the use o f kedo may imply a more modest request, leaving the decision to the visitor. Both are acceptable, but probably the former will be judged as more professional or efficient in business. Kara may be used to refuse the other's offer. In the following examples, the utterance itself may denote (i.e. provide its literal meaning) the explana­


U nderstanding Japanese

tion o f the state and situation of the speaker, but its pragmatic implicature is to refuse the other's offer or request. In this situation, the use o f kara implies the speaker^ strong determination to refuse what was offered. (4-28) A : 家 ま で 送 っ て い き ま し よ う 。 B :あ、でもだいじようぶですから、、 A: Uchi made okut-te-iki-mash-oo. house up to give a lift-TE-go-Polite-will B: A, demo daijoobu-desu kara... Ah, but all right-Polite Conj (A: (I) will take (you) home. B: Ah, well, ⑴ am all right, so...) (4-29) A : こ れ か ら み ん な で 飲 み に 行 く ん で す が 、ご 一 緒 に い か が で す か 。 B :いやあ、 もう遅いですから、、 A: Kore kara minna de nomi ni iku-n-desu ga, from now everybody with drink for go-Nomi-Polite Conj go-isshoni ikaga-desu Hon- together how about(Hon)-Polite B: Iyaa, moo well already

ka. Q

osoi desu kara,... late Polite Conj

(A: Now (we) are all going to have a drink^ and how about coming with us? B: Well, it is quite late, so,...) In these examples, kara flinctions as preventing the speaker from acting as suggested by Utterance A, wmch results in polite refusal o f the offer or sug­ gestion. Node can occur instead o f kara in these examples, but the latter sounds more determined to decline the offer. The above incomplete utterances are in the same line with some o f the politeness strategies discussed in Chapter 3. In Strategy [3] - Avoid statements which presuppose the other’s wants or needs, it was discussed that it is not polite to describe what you assume the other will do. For example, (4-24) - (429) tit into this rule. (4-24) implies that the other does not have to buy tickets; if this were verbally stated, it would sound challenging to the other person concerning the purchase o f tickets. (4-25) implies that the speaker wants the



other person to keep the change. Although the mention o f this offer may not be inappropriate, it is more gratifying to utter an incomplete sentence. (4-26) indicates that the customer should not take the reserved table. The statement of what the customer should not do may cause conflicts between the restaurant and its customers (perhaps this is also true in English). On the other hand, (4-27) would not be problematic even if the speaker asks the visitor to wait for a while, because it is a suggestion, and would not be offensive in business talk. (4-28) implies that the speaker turns down the offer, which will require extra care not to offend the other. If the completed sentence is given, it may provide fUrther implicature that the speaker is annoyed about this offer. In a similar way, (4-29) should remain incomplete; otherwise, it would create the tone of contempt on the group or their deeds. Concerning implicature, there are a number o f types o f implicature used especially when sentences are not complete. For example, chotto (a little) can be used to connote variously in different contexts, even if only this unit is uttered. (4 -3 0 ) た す み ま せ ん 、 一 万 円 細 か く し て く れ ま せ ん ? B :両替はちょっと、、 A: Sumimasen, ichi-man-en komakaku excuse me 10,000-yen small B: Ryoogae wa chotto... money change Top a little

shi-te-kure-mase-n? do-TE-(give)-Polite-Neg

(A: Excuse me, will you please change 10,000 yen into small money? B: money change,well”. (we don’t do it here)) A :今 日 映 画 で も 行 か な い ? B :今日はちょっと、、 A: Kyoo today B: Kyoo today

eiga demo ika-nai? film such as go-Neg wa chotto... Top a little

(A: Shall we go to a movie or something today?) B: Today is, a little., (inconvenient))


U nderstanding Japanese

A : 何 が 食 べ た い ?魚 は ど う ? B :魚はちょっとねえ、、 A: Nani ga tabe-tai? what Nom eat-want B: Sakana wa chotto fish Top a little

Sakana wa doo? fish Top how about nee... M

(A: What do you want to eat? How about fish? B: Fish, w ell,a little... (reluctant to eat it))

In a broader sense, these examples may be considered to be elliptic (if ellipsis encompasses all sentences that are incomplete in sentence structure). They may indicate potential sentence forms, and may offer complete sentence struc­ tures in other contexts. However, we shall not go into further analysis o f such utterances as they are somehow beyond the domain of ellipsis defined in this Chapter. The borderline between elliptic and non-elliptic is quite obscure and controversial. It is often difficult to generalise and explain all ‘incomplete , sentences in linguistic analysis, especially because ellipsis eliminates ^ c o m ­ plete5sentences which do not fulfil its rules. These rules also vary according to models, adding further problems to the determination o f the domain ellipsis deals with. Ellipsis in this Chapter was defined as omission o f units in the basic sentence structure, and the slots for these units should exist in underlying structure. Ellipsis is phonological nullness o f the arguments. Therefore, our ellipsis may safely eliminate incomplete sentences which do not conform to this definition (such as the examples in 4.3.1. below). However, this definition does not illuminate whether examples such as (4-24) - (4-30) should be categorised as our elliptic cases. Our ellipsis depends on the given verb with slots offered in structure. Thus when an entire clause is missing, it is question­ able if it is possible to assume appropriate slots in structure, and if it is worth reconstructing the entire sentence from mere pragmatic information. Therefore, further analysis o f the above examples will not be offered here, but one point is worth reiterating. Incomplete sentences such as (4-24) - (4-30)



occur for pragmatic reasons. First, pragmatic situations such as a politeness strategy give constraints on the completion o f an utterance. Second, as implied in the above, human beings are capable o f using common sense, knowledge of the world, and even intuition whereby their inferences function successfully in order to comprehend incomplete sentences with accuracy. Pedagogical grammar in general lacks the specification o f these features, and this seems to be one o f the most convoluted areas for learners of a foreign language. This is because to a certain degree such pragmatic information is shared between languages, but may be language specific.

4.3. Ellipsis-looking sentences (but not elliptic) This subsection discusses typical examples which do not present complete sentence forms, but should be accepted as perfect utterances. They are uttered as they are although their variations may occur. In other words, they are not elliptic just because they appear to be incomplete as sentences, but their forms are unchanged regardless o f their contexts. Many theoretical linguists deal with examples listed in this subsection with the assumption that many o f these examples are syntactically elliptic, and therefore attempt to reconstruct 'complete5sentence forms with various rules. However, our standpoint concerning ellipsis remains the same; ellipsis should deal with structures which are capable o f offering either syntactically parallel structures to their antecedents, or underlying structure where certain slots happen to be phonologically null. In this respect, ellipsis-looking sentences dealt with in this subsection are not elliptic because they cannot fulfil the rules o f (our) ellipsis, but establish their own patterns as part of Japanese language phenomena. Theoretical battles on the ‘ellip sis’ status o f those sentences w ill not be

discussed in this subsection. Instead, the aim of this subsection is to let learners be familiar with those examples which seldom find their equivalents in English. First, subjectless sentences will be examined. In this book, a number of examples in Japanese present no subject in structure. However, they are not


U nderstanding Japanese

called ‘subjectless.’ They have a subject position in underlying structure, but it is not realised on the surface (or phonologically null). Therefore, a different context will enable those examples to realise their subject position (e.g. watashi in the subject position is realised when the speaker compares him/herself with others). On the other hand, subjectless sentences do not realise a subject position regardless o f contexts where they occur. In other words, they do not have a subject position in underlying structure. Second, the so-called 4(7«ag/-sentence, is discussed. This type of sentence is typically symbolised as NP + wa + NP + da (e.g. Boku wa unagi da = A n eel for me). Traditionally this sentence type has been treated as elliptic, but is in fact a perfect utterance which does not need its reconstruction. The Unagisentence is an utterance of an NP 'focus5which is a reply to the given 'presup­ position,9(these terms will be explained in 4.3.2.) which accompanies other elements to form N P + wa + NP + da. I will introduce various pragmatic situations which enable the t/«agz-sentence to occur.

4.3.1. Subjectless sentences 4Subjectless5is defined as 4a term which presents no subject position in the basic sentence form.’The basic sentence form in this book has been understood as a structure which provides at least a subject and a predicate. However, there are structures which do not provide a subject position in underlying struc­ ture, and thus never realise a linguistic unit in any context. Subjectless structure should be differentiated from structure with an elliptic subject. The latter offers its underlying subject position, and has potential to be realised on the surface. On the other hand, subjectless structure does not have such capacity. It oifers only a predicate position in underlying structure. In English, meteorological statements such as 4It rains.5and 4It snows.1 are considered to be subjectless structures2. Although 6it?appears to function as a subject, it is a dummy or expletive positioned only on the surface. Grammatical categories such as 'subject9must present a certain pattern having a capacity to fill various linguistic units in the slot, and playing a certain role in relation to



the given predicate. 4I f in 4it rains' does not oflfer potential for being replaced by other units, and cannot propose a certain pattern in structure. Therefore, it remains an expletive, without functioning as a subject (MePcuk (1988: 330) also mentions ‘semantically empty’). In Japanese, the following examples are considered to be subjectless structures. (4 -31) 今 何 時 で す か 。 Ima nan-ji desu ka. now what-time Polite Q (What time is it now?) (4 -3 2 ) い い 天 気 に な り ま し た ね 。 Ii tenki ni nari-mashi-ta good weather become-Polite-Pst (It’s become fine, hasn’t it?)

ne. M

(4-33) 駅 ま で バ ス で 十 五 分 か か る 0 Eki made basu de juugo-fun kakaru. station to bus by 15-minute take (It takes 15 minutes by bus to the station.) (4_34)


Burisuben kara Goorudo Koosuto made Brisbane from Gold Coast to hachijuk-kiromeetoru 80-km

yaku about

ari-masu. have-Polite

(It is about 80 km from Brisbane to Gold Coast.) Meteorological statements, time and distance are uttered without a subject. (434) appears to be an existential sentence (there is/are...), but hachi-jukkiromeetoru cannot be a subject because ga cannot be attached to this noun to specify the subject role. (4-34),*


ます。 . . . * Burisuben kara Goorudo Koosuto made yaku hachi-juk-kiro meetoru ga an-masu.


U nderstanding Japanese

In Chapter 1 where grammatical roles were discussed, the subject was defined as the Agent o f an action. It is a semantic and logical relationship between doer and action. Many examples can be reasonably explained with this definition. In Japanese, wa/ga plays a crucial role in determining a grammatical role, and M 5 + wa/ga mostly conforms to the definition o f a subject. In other words, the grammatical subject (NP + wa/ga in sentence structure) and the semantic subject (the Agent o f an action) refer to the same linguistic unit in syntactic analysis. However, some sentence structures betray the defi­ nition of a subject, i.e. there are cases where the grammatical subject does not coincide with the semantic subject. For example, (4-35) 私 か ら 母 に 話 し て お き ま し ょ う 。 Watashi kara haha ni hanashi-te-oki-mash-oo. I from mother to talk-TE-(finalise)-Polite-will (⑴ will tell (my) mother.) (4 -3 6 ) 田 中 さ ん の 方 で は 変 だ と 感 じ た ら し い 。 Tanaka-san no hoo dewa henda to kanji-ta-rashii. Tanaka of direction at(Top) strange Quote feel-Pst-seem (It seems that Tanaka felt (it) strange.) These two examples have a common feature that they semantically present an Agent (actor) o f the verb without furnishing a grammatical subject. In (4-35), the Agent is watashi, but this does not function as a grammatical subject in the sentence; watashi in (4-35) is an adjunct to the sentence. Indeed, the subject of the verb hanashi- (to talk) is watashi, but this is recognised only at the semantic level, but cannot be a grammatical suDject. (4-35) shows the discrepancy between the semantic and syntactic subjects. There is no syntactic (grammatical) subject in this structure. In a similar way, K m ak - 似 《 in (4-36) is a semantic subject, but does not function as a grammatical subject. Therefore, both (4-35) and (4-36) are considered to be subjectless sentences. It is possible to change the structure o f (4-35) to:



(4-35),私 が 母 に 話 し て お き ま し ょ う 。 Watashi ga haha ni hanash卜te-oia-mash-oo. I Nom mother to talk-TE-(finalise)-Polite-will (I will tell my mother.) In this structure, watashi ga is a grammatical subject. Semantically (4-35) and (4-35)9convey the same message, but pragmatically the former sounds less imposing especially when the speaker wishes to insist on pursuing the job him/herself. Therefore, (4-35) connotes that the utterance is suggestive whereas (4-35)’ may sound aggressive in a certain situation. The following examples show that there is no grammatical subject in sen­ tence structure, and the semantic subject must be inferred from the fragment o f a sentence. (4-37) 大 阪 で は 「き つ ね そ ば 」 の こ と を 「た ぬ き そ ば 」 と 言 い ま す 0 00saka dewa ‘kitsune soba’ no koto o Osaka in(Top) fox noodle of thing Acc ‘tanuki soba’ to ii-masu. raccoon noodle Quote say-Polite (In Osaka,(they) call ‘kitsune soba’ ‘tanuki soba.’ ) kitsune soba = buckwheat noodle with only crumbled med batter on top (4 -3 8 ) 警 察 で 調 べ た と こ ろ 、 ウ ソ だ と わ か っ た 。 Keisatsu de shirabe-ta tokoro, uso da to wakat-ta. police at investigate-Pst Conj lie Cop Quote understand-Pst (When (they = the police) investigated (the matter), (they) revealed that (it) was a lie.; In these examples, semantic subjects are ‘people in Osaka’ in (4-37) and ‘the policemen9in (4-38), which are partially manifested in Oosaka dewa (in Osaka) and keisatsu de (at the police (station)) respectively. However, the semantic subjects (Agents) cannot be realised as grammatical subjects in these examples. They are metaphorically related to the verbs, ii-masu (to say) in (4-37) and wakat-ta (to have understood) in (4-38), but these verbs are not grammatically related to any units on the surface.


U nderstanding Japanese

The following examples are c









sentence). In this type o f sentence,the content is stated by using omowa-rm/ (seem) or iwa-reru (it is said) as if it emerged naturally in the speaker^ mind, or something beyond his/her control forced the event to occur. Although in reality, the Agent of the action is the speaker or people in general, the sentence structure ofjihatsu-bun does not offer its grammatical subject. (4 -3 9 ) 日 本 の 経 済 は 今 難 し い 時 期 を 迎 え て い る と 言 わ れ て い る 。 Nihon no keizai wa ima muzukashn jiki o Japan of economics Top now difficult time Acc mukae-te-iru to iwa-re-te-iru. receive-TE-Prog Quote say-Pass-TE-Prog (It is said that Japanese economy is having its difficult time.) In the English translation, 4if in 4it is said that../ is an expletive which is equiva­ lent to the that-clause; some scholars may pronounce th a t4it9in this structure is a grammatical subject. In Japanese, on the other hand, iwa-re-te-iru (to be said) does not relate to any unit in the structure. The precedent structure to this verb cannot be a grammatical subject since to (quotation) does not flinction as similar to the that-clause in English; it is a mere quotation attached to the verb as an adjunct (though the most important message in (4-39) is conveyed by this adjunct). In a similar way, the following examples hold a subjectless sentence in which the verb underlined is not syntactically related to any unit. (4 -4 0 ) 明 日 発 表 が あ る と お も わ れ る 。 Ashita happyoo ga aru to omowa-reru. tomorrow announcement Nom exist Quote think-Pass (It is assumed that there will be an announcement tomorrow.) (4_41) ア メ リ カ の 大 統 領 が お か し な こ と を し た と 世 界 中 に 知 れ た 。 Amenka


no daitooryoo ga okashina koto o shi-ta to of president Nom strange thing Acc do-Pst Quote

sekai-juu ni shi-re-ta. world-wide to know-Pass-Pst (It was known to the world that the American president did something strange.)



In (4-40), the Agent o f the action ‘assuming’ is the speaker, i.e. the semantic subject is watashi. However, this sentence does not offer a grammatical subject. In (4-41), the Agent o f the action 4to be known7is 'the fact that the American president did something strange/ However, this is a semantic subject, not a gram­ matical subject. It functions as an adjunct in syntax. Let us examine whether the following examples are subjectless sentences. (4 -4 2 ) 赤 色 と 青 色 を 混 ぜ る と 何 色 に な り ま す か 。 Aka-iro to ao-iro o mazeru to nani-iro red-colour and blue-colour with mix Conj


ni nari-masu ka. become-Polite Q (If (you) mix red with blue, what colour (do you get)?) (4_43)—個 百 円 の り ん ご を 三 個 と 一 個 百 二 十 円 の か き を 四 個 買 っ て 、 千 円出したら、おつりはいくらか。

Ik-ko hyaku-en no ringo o san-ko to one 100 yen of apple Acc three and ik-ko hyaku-ni-juu-en no kaki o yon-ko one 120 yen of persimmon Acc four

kat-te, buy-Conj

sen-en dashi-tara, otsuri wa ikura ka. 1,000 yen give-Conj change Top how much Q (If (you) buy three apples which cost 100 yen each, and four persim­ mons which cost 120 yen each, and give 1,000 yen, how much change (do you get)?) In both (4-42) and (4-43), the identity of a person who is involved in actions is not a matter of concern. The subject identity is unknown or a matter o f indifference especially because the content o f these sentences is a general or universal statement that applies to anybody. This phenomenon is equivalent to English ‘you’,‘one, or ‘they’ when the statement refers to the general. In Japanese, statements referring to the general do not specify a grammatical subject. Mikami (1970) considers this kind o f sentence to be 'subjectless. This is because the structure of a general statement cannot recover its subject (in this respect, Mikami believes that ellipsis should guarantee the recovery o f units


U nderstanding Japanese

from a previous context). However, our ellipsis does not have to ensure the precise reconstruction of elliptic elements from a previous context. As far as a potential position (usually argument) is found in underlying structure, its phonological realisation is placed secondary. (4-42) and (4-43) should be considered to be elliptic with their subject position yet to be filled. First, the predicate clearly provides its arguments one o f which (subject) is not phonologically filled. Second, it is possible to find other contexts which realise the subject position in the structure o f (4-42) and (4-43). For example, in textbooks which are meant for primary school pupils, the same structures present the subject position which is phonologically realised. (442)’ ひ ろ こ さ ん が 絵 の 具 を 使 っ て 、 赤 色 と 青 色 を 混 ぜ る と 何 色 に な り ますか。

Hiroko-san ga enogu o Hiroko Nom painting colour Acc

tsukat-te, aka-iro use-Conj red-colour

to and

aorio o mazeru to nam-iro ni nari-masu ka. blue-colour Acc mix Conj what-colour become-Polite Q (When Hiroko uses painting colours, and mixes red with blue, what colour do (they) become?) (4-43)’ 太 郎 君 が お つ か い に 行 き ま し た 。 一 個 百 円 の り ん ご を 三 個 と 一 個 百二十円のかきを四個買って、千円出したら、 おつりはいくらで すか。

Taroo-kun Taro

ga otsukai ni iki-mashi-ta. Ik-ko hyaku-en no Nom errand for go-Polite-Pst one 100 yen of

ringo o san-ko to ik-ko hyaku-ni-juu-en no kaki 〇 apple Acc three and one 120 yen of persimmon Acc yon-ko kat-te, sen-en dashi-tara^ otsuri wa ikura desu ka. four buy-Conj 1,000 yen give-Conj change Top how much Polite Q (Taro went out for an errand. (He) bought three apples which cost 100 yen each, and four persimmons which cost 120 yen each, and gave 1,000 yen. Then, how much (will he get) as change?) Except for the subject position realised as //か

似 /2ga

in (4»42),and 沿厂加-

kun ga in (4-43)5, (4-42) and (4-42)\ and (4-43) and (4-43)9each present the



same syntactic structure. Although the realisation o f a subject position is limited to certain contexts and aims at a special style to avoid an abstract concept for children, it is possible to linguistically realise the subject position in (4-42) and (4-43); therefore, these sentences should be considered elliptic. English also offers structures without revealing a sentient (thus semantic) subject. For example, in ‘It is possible to buy a ticket here,’ tiie sentient subject is not identified although its syntactic structure arranges its subject on the surface (an expletive subject 'if) . It is also possible in English to construct a passive sentence if the Agent o f an action is a matter o f indifference; e.g. in ‘Three men were killed/ it is ‘three men’ which is focused in this utterance, and the Agent of the action tkilling, (i.e. who or what killed them) is not brought to the fore. However, the grammatical subject (‘three men’ as a Patient) in this sentence exists (Tliis means that in passive structures as above, the grammatical subject is different from the Agent, i.e. the semantic subject). In Japanese, on the other hand, 'expletive units, hardly exist as part o f a sentence, and passive sentences will produce a number o f unnatural utter­ ances (see below). Instead, the omission o f a subject, regardless o f its recoverbility, occurs when the Agent of an action is not focused. Therefore, the grammatical subject is elliptic and phonologically null. This is also to do with a characteristic of Japanese verbs. That is, in Japanese, a number of verbs which indicate human conducts must have a sentient subject unless the whole context allows personification o f non-human objects. However, because passivisation may produce unnatural Japanese, these verbs must remain in the active form, and the subject position is not phonologically realised. For example, (4_44) 小 包 が 届 い た 。 て い ね い に つ つ ん で あ る 。 お そ ら く こ わ れ も の を 送ってきたんだろう。

Kozutsumi ga todoi-ta. Teineini tsutsu-n-de-aru. parcel Nom arrive-Pst carefully wrap-Nomi-TE-state Osoraku koware-mono o okut-te-ki-ta-n-daroo. perhaps fragile-thing Acc send-TE-come-Pst-Nomi-perhaps (A p a rc e l a r r i v e d . ⑻ is c a re fu lly wrapped. Perhaps, (somebody) sent something fragile.)


U nderstanding Japanese

In (4-44), the speaker pays attention to ‘a parcel.’ Each sentence is structured with this focus as a pivot (the second sentence contains zero anaphora in a topic chain). The third sentence does not specify the Agent o f the action 'send­ ing (the parcel)' because the focus o f the speaker^ attention is still on 'the parcel’;who sent it is not questioned. Therefore, ellipsis o f the subject in the third sentence occurs. Passivisation o f the last sentence in (4-44) is quite acceptable, but does not properly fit into the context (4-44). (4-45) is uttered when the speaker talks about somebody else^ experience (receiving a parcel), and assumes that ‘something fragile was sent to that person.’ (4-45) ? お そ ら く こ わ れ も の が 送 ら れ て き た ん だ ろ う 。 ? Osoraku koware-mono ga oku-rare-te-ki-ta-n-daroo. perhaps fragile-thing Nom send-Pass-TE-come-Pst-Nomi-perhaps (Perhaps, something fragile was sent.) (4-46)

「禁 煙 」 と い う ポ ス タ ー が は っ て あ る 。

‘Kin-en’ to iu posutaa ga hat-te-aru. non smoking Quote say poster Nom paste-TE-state (There is a poster which says 4no smoking’.) A common error in structuring this sentence is: (4-47)? 「禁 煙 」 と い う ポ ス タ ー が は ら れ て い る 。 ? ‘Kin-en’ to iu posutaa ga hara-re-te-iru. non smoking Quote say poster Nom paste-pass-TE-Prog (The poster which says ‘no smoking’ is stuck.) Although this is not ungrammatical, (4-46) is more commonly uttered, and is more natural. In (4-46), the sentient subject of the action hat- (to put, to glue) is missing. The focus is on ‘the poster’, and who put up the poster is not questioned; and yet, because the passive form is not common in Japanese, the active form o f the verb is maintained while using ellipsis o f a subject. Further examples o f this type o f ellipsis are listed below, selected from learners’ errors. (4-48) * 店 は 十 時 に 開 け ら れ ま す 。



* Mise wa juu-ji ni ake-rare-masu. shop Top 10-o’clock at open-Pass-Polite (The shop will be opened at 10 o’clock.) This sentence should be reconstructed as: 店は十時に開けます。

Mise wa juu-ji ni ake-masu. shop Top 10-o’clock at open-Polite ((We) shall open the shop at 10 o'clock.) ( 4 - 4 9 ) 今 い ち ご が シ ー ズ ン で す 。 *一 盛 り 百 円 で 売 ら れ て い ま す よ 。 Ima ichigo ga shiizun desu. now strawberry Nom in season Polite * Hito-mori hyaku-en de ura-re-te-i-masu yo. one-basket 100 yen for sell-Pass-TE-Prog-Polite M (Now strawberries are in season. A basket of strawberries is sold for 100 yen.) The second sentence should be reconstructed as: 一盛り百円で売っていますよ。

Hito-mori hyaku-en de ut-te-i-masu yo. one-basket 100 yen for sell-TE-Prog-Polite M ((They) sell (strawberries) for 100 yen per basket.) (4-50) * 会 議 は 四 時 か ら 始 め ら れ ま す 。 * Kaigi wa yo-ji kara hajime-rare-masu. meeting Top 4-o’clock from begin-Pass-Polite (The meeting will be held at 4 o’clock.) This sentence should be reconstructed as: 会議は四時から始めます。

Kaigi wa yo-ji kara hajime-masu. meeting Top 4-o’clock from begin-Polite ((We) shall start a meeting at 4 o'clock.) When an organisation or meeting is at a national or international level, the passive form is naturally accepted. For example,


U nderstanding Japanese

(4 -5 1 ) 国 際 会 議 は 京 都 で 開 か れ る そ う で す 。 Kokusai kaigi wa kyooto de hiraka-reru-soo-desu. international meeting T«p Kyoto at open-Pass-I hear-Polite (The international conference will be held in Kyoto, I hear.) 二千年のオリンピックはシドニーで開催されることになった。

Ni-sen-nen no orinpikku wa shidomi de kaisaisa-reru koto ni nat-ta. 2000-year of Olympics Top Sydney at hold-Pass (be decided)-Pst (It was decided that the Olympics in 2000 will be held in Sydney.)

4.3.2. f he Unagt-sentence Learners at the intermediate or higher levels start encountering ‘real’ or ‘authentic, Japanese. At the rudimentary level, sentences such as below may be permitted in learners’ exercise, and are in fact presented in textbooks. (4-52) A : あ な た の 妹 さ ん は い つ 生 ま れ ま し た か 。 B :私の妹は五月に生まれました。 A: Anata no imooto-san wa itsu umare-mashi-ta ka. you of younger sister Top when be bom-Polite-Pst Q B: Watashi no imooto wa go-gatsu ni umare-mashi-ta. I of younger sister Top May in be bom-Polite-Pst (A: When was your sister bom? B: My sister was bom in May.) Learners eventually learn to omit the subject because it has already been topicalised. (4 -5 3 ) 必 五 月 に 生 ま れ ま し た 。 沴 go-gatsu ni umare-mashi-ta. May in be bom-Polite-Pst ( (j) (she) was bom in May.) This is more natural than Utterance B in (4-52). However, (4-53) is uttered in quite a formal situation such as court hearing or a job interview (although your sister's birthday may not be questioned at an interview!). Or, the speaker tries to recall his/her sister^ birthday, and may utter with the verb u m a re r u (to be bom).



(4 -5 4 ) え 一 っ と 、 あ 、 そ う そ う 五 月 、 五 月 に 生 ま れ た ん で す 。 Eetto, a, soosoo go-gatsu ni umare-ta-n-desu. well ah yes yes May in be bom-Pst-Nomi-Polite (Let me see, well, yes, May, (she) was bom in May.)

As a simple reply to Utterance A in (4-52), the most natural utterance is: (4 -5 5 ) 五 月 で す 。 Go-gatsu desu. May Polite (It’s May.)

The question raised here is why desu occurs instead o f the reiteration of the same verb, umareru (to be bom), as in Utterance A in (4-52). Normal yesno questions require the same verb to be repeated in the answer (as discussed in 4 .1 .).On the other hand, questions such as Utterance A in (4-52) do not require such a strict grammatical rule, allowing the answer to be accompanied with desu (or da). This subsection will attempt to account for the occurrence o f sentences such as (4-55). They are traditionally given the term 6t/«ag/-sentences, (eelsentences), as initiated by Okutsu (1978). This is because Okutsu discussed this type of sentence by focusing the sentence, Boku wa unagi da, which cannot be interpreted as 4I am an eel/ but something else, depending on its contexts. The L^agz-sentence is known generically as the structure NPt + wa + NP2 + da (NP = Noun Phrase). The t/«ag/-sentence is differentiated from sen­ tences such as: (4 -5 6 ) 田 中 さ ん は ク イ ー ン ズ ラ ン ド 大 学 の 学 生 で す 0 Tanaka-san wa kuiinzurando daigagku no gakusei desu. Tanaka Top Queensland university o f student Cop(Polite) (Tanaka is a student at the University o f Queensland.) これは私の本です。

Kore wa this Top

watashi no hon desu. I o f book Cop(Polite)

(This is my book.)


U nderstanding Japanese

These sentences are called ‘copular sentences’ in which NP2 is descriptive of or identifying NP,. In other w〇[ds, in the first sentence, gakusei (= student, NP2) is descriptive o f Tanaka-san (NP,). In the second sentence, hon (= book, NP2) is identifying kore (= this, NP,). The characteristics o f a copular sentence are symbolised as NP, Q NP2. Da and its variations (such as desu) is called tcopula, (= 'be5verb), functioning as a linking verb between the two NPs. On the other hand, the f/«ag/-sentence, though holding the same structure as the copular sentences above, has been regarded differently because it does not frame NP, Q NP2. For example, (4 -57) 僕 は う な ぎ だ 。 Boku wa unagida. I Top eel (An eel for me.) If this sentence is analysed as ‘boku wa = subject’ and the copula as a linking verb between the subject and the predicate noun (unagi = eel), it is interpreted as 41 am an eel/ This is nonsensical unless some extremely unusual contexts are supplied. (4-57) is called the i7«^/-sentence, and presents NP,