April 2007. Volume 2 Issue 1
A Functional Study of the Final Particle mono in
Japanese Conversational Discourse
In 2004, after obtaining her MA degree in Japanese linguistics, Yan Wang embarked upon her Ph.D degree at the department of East Asian Languages and Literature in University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA. The major foci of her research are on discourse analysis and pragmatics, and she has presented papers on Japanese sentence-final particles and “fillers” on several linguistic conferences in the United States. The present study on the sentence-final particle “mono” is based on her MA thesis. She is currently working on her Ph.D. dissertation, which is a comparative study of Japanese and Chinese question forms.
This study aims at investigating the discourse and pragmatic functions of the sentence-final particle (FP) mono in Japanese conversations. By employing discourse analysis as methodology, and upon analyzing the structure patterns of mono-utterances in natural conversations, I examined how the FP mono contributes to the cohesion of on-going talks by organizing the sequences, and how it shows speakers’ attitudes towards both propositions and addressees. In particular, the FP mono is divided into two types: 1) The “self-justification mono,” which serves to justify the speaker’s position that has been explicitly or implicitly challenged; and 2) The “other-justification mono,” which supports the position of others, primarily of the prior speaker, who tends to challenge a “third party” outside the conversation. By marking the logic as an inevitable and natural consequence, mono qualifies speakers’ reasoning as generally accepted knowledge located within common grounds. Hence, rather than neutrally providing supplementary information, mono conveys speakers’ subjectivity and thereby functions as a modality marker in conversational discourse.
Key words: sentence-final particle, causal logic, common ground, justification, challenge
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