LINGUIST List 14.1221

Wed Apr 30 2003

Books: Syntax/Semantics, Japanese: Fry

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  1. pjohnson, Ellipsis and wa-marking in Japanese Conversation: Fry

Message 1: Ellipsis and wa-marking in Japanese Conversation: Fry

Date: Tue, 29 Apr 2003 15:30:01 +0000
From: pjohnson <>
Subject: Ellipsis and wa-marking in Japanese Conversation: Fry

Title: Ellipsis and wa-marking in Japanese Conversation
Series Title: Outstanding Dissertations in Linguistics
Publication Year: 2003
Publisher: Routledge (Taylor and Francis)		 
Author: John Fry, SRI 

Hardback: ISBN: 0415967643, Pages: 208, Price: $75.00

This book investigates the operation of two linguistic mechanisms,
ellipsis and wa-marking, in a corpus of colloquial Japanese
speech. Its data set is the CallHome Japanese (CHJ) corpus, a
collection of transcripts and digitized speech data for 120 telephone
conversations between native speakers of Japanese. To make the CHJ
data useful for linguistic research, John Fry annotates the original
transcripts with a comprehensive set of acoustic, phonetic, syntactic,
and semantic tags.

John Fry demonstrates that Japanese conversation obeys certain
principles of argument ellipsis that appear to be language universal:
namely, the tendency to omit transitive and human subjects and the
tendency to express no more than one argument per clause. He
identifies a set of syntactic and semantic factors that correlate
significantly with the ellipsis of grammatical particles following a
noun phrase. These factors include the grammatical construction type
(question, idiom), length of the NP, utterance length, proximity of
the NP to the predicate, and the animacy and definiteness of the
NP. The animacy and definiteness constrains are of particular interest
because these too seem to reflect language-universal principles.

Analyzing the CHJ data further, Fry investigates the use and function
of the topic-marking particle wa. His study identifies a set of
semantic and prosodic properties that tend to distinguish wa from the
subject-marking particle ga. This book shows that wa-phrases exhibit
more prominent intonation, as measured by peak F0, than ga-phrases in
the CHJ speech data, contradicting accounts which predict that
ga-phrases, because they are associated with "new" information, should
be more prominent.

Lingfield(s): Semantics
Subject Language(s): Japanese (Language code: JPN)

Areal Regions: East Asian

Written In: English (Language Code: ENG)

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