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New from Oxford University Press!


It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

New from Cambridge University Press!


Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

Book Information


Title: Agency and Impersonality
Subtitle: Their Linguistic and Cultural Manifestations
Written By: Mutsumi Yamamoto
Series Title: Studies in Language Companion Series 78

In this monograph the author probes the fundamental nature of the concept
of agency and its importance to human language and cognition. Whereas
previous studies focused on grammatical manifestations this original work
addresses such issues as the strong relationship between agency and
responsibility, a philosophical interpretation of the concept of agency and
a variety of epistemic attitudes towards agency that strongly influence our
view of the world. Different cultures and languages process and express
agency differently. To illustrate the co-relation between the linguistic
expressions of agency and cultural stereotypes that lurk behind individual
natural languages, the author analyses Japanese and English parallel
corpora. It is shown that English tends to highlight agency in expressing
actions and events, whereas Japanese largely obfuscates agency through
impersonalising potential agents. Through the case studies on these
languages this book sheds light on the close connection between language,
thought and culture and contributes to the resurging interest in linguistic

Table of contents

Acknowledgements ix
List of Abbreviations xi
1. Introduction 1–9
2. What is agency? 11–37
3. Linguistic treatment of agency and its manifestations in Japanese and
English: With reference to the concept of ‘impersonality’ 39–69
4. Agency, impersonality and world-view: With reference to linguistic and
socio-cultural relativity 71–117
5. Some enigmas concerning agency, impersonality and 'reality' 119–130
Notes 131–136
References 137–144
Index 145–151

Publication Year: 2006
Publisher: John Benjamins
Review: Read the review
BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Semantics
Subject Language(s): English
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Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9027230889
ISBN-13: 9789027230881
Pages: 152
Prices: U.S. $ 134
Europe EURO 99.00