Expanding to the peripheries: A corpus-based study of the development of the Japanese discourse marker toiuka

Koji Tanno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Many languages have common or stock phrases that are used when the speaker is unsure about how to say a certain thing, as with such English expressions as how should I put it? and something like X. In conversation, one strategy to avoid turning into a silence is to give a tentative choice with the hope that the addressee will understand the speaker's meaning. The Japanese discourse marker toiuka started as such a parenthetical expression that appears in mid-sentence and indicates the speaker's difficulty in lexical choice. It subsequently shifted to the utterance-initial and -final positions and gained new uses. The present article examines the diachronic development of this expression, using data from the National Diet Minutes Corpus [1], the Ninjobon ‘Love Story Books’ Corpus [2], and the Taiyo ‘Sun Magazine’ Corpus [3]. We keep track of the pragmatic-semantic and syntactic patterns over time quantitatively and show from a usage-based approach how this gradual process occurred.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-72
Number of pages15
JournalAmpersand
Volume4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Keywords

  • (Inter)subjectification
  • Grammaticalization
  • Reformulation
  • Repair
  • Scope
  • Upgrade

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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