Versatile ‘say’ constructions in Japanese: Some implications
for the emergence of sentence final particles
Mizuho TAMAJI and Foong Ha YAP
Hong Kong Polytechnic University
It has been reported that in some languages, ‘say’ verbs developed into evidential markers
and pragmatic markers such as mirativity-marking (Aikenvald 2004; Yap & Ahn 2011 Yap,
Yang & Wong forthcoming). In this talk, using historical data from the Taikei Honbun
Database, we will examine how ‘say’ constructions in Japanese develop into pragmatic
markers at the right periphery, among them the highly versatile sentence final particle tte.
There are two views on the origin and development of tte; one view is that tte developed from
to itte (Suzuki 2007), and the other is that tte developed from tote (e.g. Yuzawa 1957;
Konoshima 1973; Saegusa 1997). In this study, we provide diachronic evidence that suggest
that tte developed from the convergence of both the to itte and tote pathways, and possibly also
from further convergence with a third pathway, namely, the to ifute pathway. A common
denominator in all three pathways is the extension from nonfinite converbal form to a finite
‘stand-alone’ structure via main clause ellipsis. In this talk, we also examine the role of verbal
ellipsis and phonological reduction on the development of tote as a sentence final particle, and
we compare similar phenomena from a typological perspective, with particular reference to
Korean hearsay evidential markers tako, tamye and tamyense.
Selected References.
Suzuki, Ryoko. 2007. (Inter) subjectification in the quotative tte in Japanese conversation: local change, utterance-ness
and verb-ness. Journal of Historical Linguistics 8(2): 207-237.
Yap, Foong Ha and Mikyung Ahn. (2011). Evidentiality and counterexpectation marking strategies in Cantonese and Korean. Paper presented at the
Workshop on Evidentiality and Mood, National Seoul University, October 19.
Yap, Foong Ha, Ying Yang and Tak-Sum Wong. (forthcoming). On the development of sentence final particles (and utterance tags) in Chinese.
In Kate Beeching & Ulrich Detges (eds), The role of the left and right periphery in semantic change, [Studies in Pragmatics Series]. Bingley, UK:
Emerald Publishers.
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