The Pragmatic Nature of the So-Called Subject Marker Ga in Japanese

Evidence from Conversation

Tsuyoshi Ono, Sandra A. Thompson, Ryoko Suzuki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Since the inception of modern approaches to grammar, Japanese ga has been treated as a marker indicating the grammatical relation ‘subject.’ If this is an accurate characterization of ga, then we would expect ga to occur to mark a grammatical category consisting of ‘A’ (transitive subject) and ‘S’ (intransitive subject) (Comrie, 1978; Dixon, 1979). Our examination of the contexts in which ga is actually used in everyday Japanese conversations shows that this expectation is not borne out. Our findings suggest that it is not appropriate to describe ga in terms of a grammatical relation such as ‘subject’, and that ga may be much less a grammatical marker than a discourse-pragmatic one.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-84
Number of pages30
JournalDiscourse Studies
Volume2
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2000

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pragmatics
conversation
evidence
grammar
examination
discourse
Grammatical Relations

Keywords

  • case
  • case-marking
  • conversation
  • grammar
  • grammatical
  • Japanese
  • pragmatics
  • relations
  • subject

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language

Cite this

The Pragmatic Nature of the So-Called Subject Marker Ga in Japanese : Evidence from Conversation. / Ono, Tsuyoshi; Thompson, Sandra A.; Suzuki, Ryoko.

In: Discourse Studies, Vol. 2, No. 1, 2000, p. 55-84.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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