Query: speaker's irresponsible marker
bingfu at USC.EDU
Wed Apr 8 13:24:12 UTC 1998
Your analogism between Chinese 'de' and
Japanese 'no' is based on the assumption that both
are modification markers or something similar.
However, I am wondering whether the assumption
They seem to be distributionally complementary
rather than identical. Consider the following paradigms.
(1) A comparison of the distributions of 'de' and 'no':
(D, Q, NP, RC, AP = determiner, numeral(+classifier),
noun phrase, adjective phrase respectively)
D Q NP RC AP
Namely, in Japanese, D and Q obligatorily require 'no', but RC and AP
don't. Chinese 'de' is opposite in this respect. The only shared portion
of distribution is when they follow NP.
Given that as modifiers, D and Q are basically to restrict reference of
the head noun (making their mother NPs definite and indefinite
respectively), but RC and AP are basically to describe the properties of
the head noun, we may say that 'de' is basically descriptive, but 'no'
That both de and no follow the NP can be accommodated with the
non-exclusion between restrictiveness and descriptiveness.
NPs can be both restrictive and descriptive. This can be
analogized to the cases that a possessive can take either noun/pronoun
form or adjectival form, even in the same language, such as "Italy's
invasion of Albania" and "The Italian invasion of Albania".
Chinese NP-de is close to "Italian" while Japanese
NP-no to "Italy's", Given
that nominals are dominantly referential while adjectives are dominantly
This semantic difference seems to be able to explain why the
sentence-final 'no' adds uncertainty to the sentence while
sentence-final 'de' adds certaity. Condiser the following,
(2) a. sekai o odorokasu enzetu
world Obj astonish speech
'the speech that surprises the world'
b. sekai o odorakasu no enzetu
'the speech that is said to surprise the world'
As has been noted, a RC modifier with no always implies a quotative sense,
without any commitment to the real properties of the modified NP. Given
that implicating true properties are the primary condition for
descriptiveness, Japanese RC with no can be said to have less descriptive
power and consequently less certainty. 'said to be...' is similar
to 'so-called', 'alleged' 'aforementioned', basically a referentially
The following are examples of distribution of 'de' and 'no', for those
who are not familiar with Chinese and Japanese.
(3) a. zhe (*de) ren
b. san-ben (*de) shu
c. zheyang *(de) ren
this kind person
'this kind of persons/such a person'
(4) a. ko-*(no) hito
b. san-satu *(no) hon
c. konna (*no) hito
this kind person
'this kind of persons/such a person'
Hope this message is useful for you.
On Wed, 8 Apr 1998, Hideaki Sugai wrote:
> Dear members of ALT,
> My query is kind of a long one which has two parts:
> (1) About a marker which marks the speaker's irresponsibility to
> evaluate the truth of what s/he said and which converts a presupposition
> into an assertion. A grammatical description in Japanese. Query about
> this phenomenon in Mandarin, Indonesian or other languages.
> (2) About the terminology required for describing this phenomena (in
> pragmatics and discourse analysis)
> If you think these topics are not relevant to your field, please ignore
> this query (I am afraid this query will take too much of your time).
> Part 1
> In Japanese, there is an interesting sentence final particle, _no_ "of".
> There have been a number of previous studies that indicated that the
> sentence with this marker is kind of a presupposition and cannot be
> challenged by the hearer. The followings are some examples. _n_ is a
> variation of _no_. desu "be" or desuka is a copula which appears with
> (1) Soko o hidarini magaru to, biru ga aru (_n=no_ desu)
> "There is a building after you turn left"
> (2) ame ga hutteiru (_n_ desuka)?
> "Is it raining outside?"
> (3) chikkyuu ha marui (_n_ desu)
> "The earth is round"
> (4) Nihonjin wa hashi de gohan o taberu (_n_ desu)
> "Japanese uses chopsticks when they eat."
> (5) A: Do no hito ga sukina (-no-)?
> "Which guy do you like?"
> B: jitsuha... Yoshida san (na _n_) desu
> "Actually...I like Mr Yoshida"
> In (1), the speaker is giving an instruction to a person who is not
> familiar with the area. The speaker of course knows the area well, so
> he is describing the way using his knowledge of the area. (2) is said
> when a visitor comes to your room and his clothes are all wet. This may
> be interpreted as a question asking how or why the visitor got wet. (3)
> This is an absolute truth, in other words, a presupposition. (4) is
> true among a cultural group. (5) is shared information where Mr Yoshida
> is known to both the speaker and the hearer.
> All information contained in the above sentences fit Givon's
> (1984) uncontested knowledge. Therefore Iwasaki (1985) and Cook (1990)
> concluded that sentences marked by _no_ are unchallengeable.
> I noticed that the above sentences are unchallengeable not when
> there is a _no_ marker but rather when there isn't a _no_ marker.
> After _no_ is attached, the sentence invites the hearer to challenge or
> evaluate the truth of the _no_ sentence.
> (1b) A: soko wo migini magaru to biru ga arundesu
> "There is a building after you turn left there"
> B: hontou desuka, sakki ikimashitaga, arimasendeshita yo
> "Really? I went there just now, but I didn't see such a
> (3b) A: chikyuu wa marui _n_ desu
> "The earth is round"
> B: Iya, boku ha shikakui to omou kedo?
> "Well, I think it's a square"
> Therefore it seems that the function of _no_ is to cancel the
> truth of the uncontested knowledge=presupposition and convert it to an
> assertion whose truth is uncertain. Usually, the speaker is responsible
> for the truth of the uncontested knowledge and the hearer should have
> minimum responsibility for the evaluation of such information. But if
> the speaker wants to be irresponsible for what he has said, he can mark
> his uncontested knowledge-in-disguise with this marker so that the
> hearer knows that it's his turn to evaluate the truth.
> I did a text count of the types of hearer's response in Japanese
> fiction. The results show that the hearer indeed frequently disagrees
> with the speaker or ignores what the speaker has said. Therefore my
> assumption that _no_ cancels the truth of uncontested knowledge seems to
> be on the right track.
> Now, my first query is, do you know of any other languages which
> have such a marker? In Mandarin, there is an exact parallel structure
> 'shi...de' "be...of". But it seems that most of the above examples
> cannot be expressed with "shi..de". There is one example where this can
> be used.
> (7) Mother: Shi shei chi le ping xiang li de ciao ke li?
> "Who ate the chocolate in the refrigerator?"
> Children: Shi John chi de.
> "It was John who ate it."
> In this situation, the mother knows that the children should be able to
> tell her who ate the chocolate. This resembles the example (2) where
> the speaker assumes that the hearer should be able to tell whether it's
> raining outside. But my colleague told me that (2) is not possible in
> There is again a parallel structure in Indonesian: the genetive
> "nya". I'msorry that I cannot write an exact sentence but one sentence
> I saw in a grammar book is:
> (8) A: Didn't you go to a bank just now?
> B: Well, I went there, but it was closed (nya).
> Again this looks like (2) or (7). But I don't have much access to
> Indonesian so I wonder whether other sentences can be said with "nya".
> Would you let me know if you happen to know this structure in Mandarin,
> Indonesian or any other language? For your reference the Japanese _no_
> is usually translated as English "you know" or cleft construction "It
> is John who ate it!". I am interested in a. What kind of reply will be
> given by the hearer (argument, ignorance, agreement etc), and b. whether
> this kind of function is delivered with either a combination of "be" and
> "of" or just one of them.
> Part II
> This is a query of the terminology regarding the above topic.
> In the text count of _the types_ of hearer's response, I found out that
> the hearer who hears a _no_ sentence will challenge against, agree with,
> comment on, or ignore the _no_ sentence. My problem is that I am not
> sure whether _the _types_ of hearer's response can be described as
> _speech acts_ in hearer's reply. Although I can translate some types of
> responses into some popular types of speech acts such as "declarative",
> I don't see a good classification of speech acts which includes
> "avoiding or ignoring what the hearer has heard" Is there any problem
> in describing "agreement, ignoring, augment" as speech acts? Is there
> any better term to call the _types_ of hearer's reply?
> I will post the results after I gather the comments and suggestions.
> Thank you very much for reading this long query.
> Hideaki SUGAI
> Japanese Studies
> National University of Singapore
> phone: - 874-7850
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