Irresponsibility marker: PART 2

Hideaki Sugai jpshs at NUS.EDU.SG
Mon Apr 13 07:08:40 UTC 1998

Dear colleagues,

In the last query on the irresponsibility marker in Japanese, I did not
include much structural description of the language because I was
primarily interested in the pragmatics and discourse of the sentence
final particle _no_.  Thus it seems that some confusion was created.
Let me clarify some of the confusion.

A.  This particle appears in the sentence final position, and this is
not a genetive, possessive, or "ligature", which connects two NPs.  The
schematic representation of this marker is:
[a clause or sentence] _no_ (or _n_) (desu, or the variation of "to be")
Sentence		that		is

Attaching a copula after a _no_ is optional (a copula cannot be directly
connected after a clause without _no_ in modern Japanese).  It is
interesting to note that in many languages, especially in Chinese
dialects, the equivalent of this _no_ is phonetically the same as a
genetive, possessive marker, "ligature", or the pronoun "one" as Bingfu
mentioned (in Mandarin "de").
	The  _no_  in question is more like the complementizer "that".
For those whose language does not have this marker, the following
dialogue will give you the feeling of the structure. The literal
translation of sentence B of the following dialogue should be something
like "It is that John ate it", which is not a good English sentence.
Therefore, usually the following is translated as a cleft sentence "It
is John who ate it."

A:dare	ga	reizooko 	no	chokoreeto 	wo tabeta(_no_)
   who	SUBJ	refrigerator	of	chocolate	OBJ ate   _no_
"Who ate the chocolate in the refrerator?"

B:John ga	tabeta (_n_	desu)
John	SUB	eat	that	is
"It's John who ate it."

Notice that the sentences above do not have to have _no_s, but the
pragmatic meaning of the bare sentences is different from the sentences
with _no_.  I am also reluctant to call this _no_ a complementizer
because in Japanese, this  _no_ in the sentence final position is more
like a particle which does not participate much in configuring the
structure of a sentence.  This should be a discourse marker rather than
a possessive, genetive marker, ligature or a complementizer (and some
Japanese language textbooks show that the equivalent in English is the
discourse marker "You know".  I may be wrong about the structural
description and pragmatic functions of this _no_, but I hope you get the
feel of the structure of this interesting marker.

B.  Mandarin and Indonesian.
A parallel dialogue for (1) in Mandarin is (2), which I also showed last
time.  This is usually called the "" structure in the
literature, because as in Japanese, the exact structural description of
this 'shi' "be" and 'de' "of" is hard to decide.

(2) A: 	Shi 	shei 	chi le 		ping xiang li de ciao ke li?
	is	who	eat ASP 	refrigerator in of chocolate
	"Who ate the chocolate in the refrigerator?"
    B: Shi John	chi	de.
	is John	eat	_no_
	"It was John who ate it."

The Indonesian examples I found are as follow (all are taken from
Sneddon 1996:151).  The following structure using _nya_ is traditionally
considered as a marker that indicates the definiteness of a NP or a
(3)	Apa 	anjing _nya_ 	sudah   diberi 		makan?
	what	dog		alreay	to be given	eat
	"What has been fed to the dog?"
(4)	Di mana	koran		_nya_?
	where		newspaper
	"Where is the newspaper?"
(5)	Saya 	mau ke kantor 	pos 	tapi 	tidak tahu jalan_nya_
	I	want to office	post	but	don't know way
	" I want to go to the post office but I don't know the way."

According to Sneddon, the first sentence assumes a dog is kept in the
house, the second presupposes a newspaper is delivered, while in the
third it is understood that there is a way to the post office. This
superficially looks like the Japanese _no_, which marks a presupposition
or uncontested knowledge and converts it to a challengeable information.
Also this _nya_can be, interestingly, used as a ligature which connects
a possessor to a possessed noun (1996:147).  	
	Therefore, it seems not just an accident that in Japanese,
Mandarin (also as far as I know other Chinese dialects, such as Hokkien
and Cantonese), and Indonesian, a marker originally used as a ligature
can add some special modality or pragmatic function related to the truth
of presupposition=uncontested knowledge if it appears in the sentence
final position.
	My first query was aimed at gathering the following information.
(1)  Is there a language which has a marker that cancels the truth of
uncontested knowledge/presupposition and invites the hearer to challenge
what the speaker has said?
(2)  If there is, can the marker be also a genetive, possessive, or
ligature of NPs?  Should a copula be accompanied with the marker?  These
three languages show a slight structural difference:
Japanese: _no_	is important, but copula is optional.
Mandarin: copula seems more important than _de_.
Indonesian: _nya_  is the only marker because in Indonesian, there isn't
an overt copula "be" in its system.

The structural similarity found in (2) may be superficial and if no
pragmatic correlation is found, no universal claim can be made.
Therefore, I am interested in what kind of reply in Mandarin, Indonesian
or other languages is possible after this kind of sentence.

Thank you,

James Neil Sneddon, 1996.  Indonesian Reference Grammar.  Austraria:
Allen and Unwin

Hideaki SUGAI
Japanese Studies,
Department of Japanese Studies

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