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ERIC Number: ED552394
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 357
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2679-2614-2
Understanding and Interpreting Japanese NP1 "wa" NP2 "da" Sentences: Mechanism and Contextual Factors
Yoshida, Megumi
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, City University of New York
This dissertation investigates the contextual factors that affect the understanding and interpretation of one Japanese topicalized construction, NP[subscript 1] wa NP[subscript 2] da sentences, by native speakers of Japanese. The construction allows two possibilities in the relation between the NP[subscript 1] and the NP[subscript 2]. When the two NPs are not syntactically connected (Type I), the sentence is generally vague, and a particular context is required to specify the meaning. When they are syntactically connected (Type II), they can refer to a semantically identical referent, and the sentence is naturally interpreted as an identity sentence. The aim of the study is to examine how context determines the meaning of Type I and Type II NP[subscript 1] "wa" NP[subscript 2] "da" sentences. These sentences were examined in a set of controlled experimental contexts by two kinds of test: Understandability and Interpretation. Results showed that readers generally tried to connect the NP[subscript 1] "wa" NP[subscript 2] "da" sentences to the context syntactically, semantically, or pragmatically when the sentences were presented in a context. Specifically, a syntactic and semantic relation with a particular verb in the preceding context sentence and the NP[subscript 2] or information about a particular place presented by a locative frame enhanced the comprehension of Type I NP[subscript 1] "wa" NP[subscript 2] "da" sentences. When these contextual factors were presented consistently and appropriately, Type II NP[subscript 1] "wa" NP[subscript 2] "da" sentences could be interpreted as non-identity sentences. When such context was not available, the interpretations tended to depend on the sentence-internal conceptual connection between the NP[subscript 1] and the NP[subscript 2] in both types of NP[subscript 1] "wa" NP[subscript 2] "da" sentences. These results suggest the reader's use of their linguistic and pragmatic knowledge differs according to the context and sentence type. The results also reveal a new understanding of the "aboutness" relation, a notion that accounts for the non-syntactic connections between the topic and the predicate. Specifically, in the process of understanding NP[subscript 1] "wa" NP[subscript 2] "da" sentences, establishing an "aboutness" relation refers to the process of finding an appropriate predicate in the context to create a proposition to connect the predicate (NP[subscript 2]) to the topic NP (NP[subscript 1]). [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A