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LINGUIST List 19.1329

Sun Apr 20 2008

Books: Discourse Analysis/Syntax: Liu

Editor for this issue: Hannah Morales <hannahlinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Ulrich Lueders, The Discourse Functions of the Modal Auxiliaries Wake Da and No Da in Japanese: Liu

Message 1: The Discourse Functions of the Modal Auxiliaries Wake Da and No Da in Japanese: Liu
Date: 09-Apr-2008
From: Ulrich Lueders <lincom.europat-online.de>
Subject: The Discourse Functions of the Modal Auxiliaries Wake Da and No Da in Japanese: Liu
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Title: The Discourse Functions of the Modal Auxiliaries Wake Da and No
Da in Japanese
Series Title: LINCOM Studies in Japanese Linguistics 01
Published: 2008
Publisher: Lincom GmbH

Author: Xiangdong Liu
Paperback: ISBN: 9783895862960 Pages: 260 Price: Europe EURO 74.00

This study investigates the discourse functions of two common modal
auxiliaries in Japanese - wake da and no da - in written discourse, and the
essential differences between them.

Although previous studies provide a wealth of information on the uses and
meanings of these two expressions, they have shown serious limitations and
problems. The majority of previous works are carried out at the level of
the sentence or paragraph, and rely on the scholars' own interpretations of
the meanings, or their subjective judgments regarding whether or not one
expression can be replaced by the other. They focus on descriptions of the
similarities and interchangeabilities between the two expressions, rather
than their distinctive characteristics and functions. Many researchers
characterize the functions of both of the two expressions as 'asking or
giving explanations' or 'conveying explanatory modality'.

This study examines authentic data from Japanese newspapers at the text
level with reference to the original context and linguistic features, such
as lexical chains, as objective clues. The investigation focuses on the
distinctive functions of each of the expressions and their fundamental
differences. To avoid potential circularity, likely to be caused by using
similar terms in definitions, this study adopts a component approach when
describing the discourse functions of the two expressions. This study has
found that, although certain syntactic features and logical relations make
the two modal auxiliaries similar superficially, they are distinct from
each other in terms of (1) the types of modality they carry; (2) the
attitudes of the writer they indicate; (3) the nature of information they
convey; and (4) the ways they relate to the rest of the text. The key
findings of this study have gone beyond the limitations of previous
research and confirmed the basic thesis proposed. That is, it is not
adequate to simply conclude, as some previous studies suggest, that wake da
and no da are interchangeable. Although it may often be grammatically
acceptable to substitute one for the other in an isolated sentence, one is
more or less suitable than the other in each particular context.

Furthermore, summary expressions such as 'explanatory modal auxiliaries' or
'asking or giving explanations' are found not to be sufficient to describe
the discourse functions of these two modal auxiliaries. The information
expressed by a sentence involving wake da or no da (including their
variants) is far more than merely explanation. It involves the writer's
attitude towards the information conveyed in the proposition; the nature of
the information, and the way the sentences involving the auxiliaries
related to the rest of the text.

Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis

Subject Language(s): Japanese (jpn)

Written In: English (eng )

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