Back to list

Detail of contribution

Auteur: Hiroaki TANAKA

Common Ground and Additive Particles: Japanese Mo and English Too and Also

Abstract/Résumé: The immediate aim of this paper is to generate debate about the role of common ground/presupposition, discourse flow, and inferential process in naturally occurring conversational data of Japanese and English additive particles. The ultimate goal is to explore how people’s conversation interactively proceeds by additionally aligning with each other in the use of additive particles. Additive particles in English is widely agreed upon to trigger existential presupposition of a discourse referent (hereafter, drf)/anaphoricity that corresponds to almost the same property as the discourse referent associated with "too" and "also"(hereafter, associate). English has a rather strict strategy where people cannot begin with the sentence “Mary also lives in Paris” and does not fit as an opening utterance of a discourse unless otherwise previously stated or implied--verbally or non-verbally. Also English "too" and "also" seem to be more likely to be verbally-oriented, and require more parallel semantic/pragmatic structure between drfs and associates; whereas Japanese "mo" offers great flexibility and has accommodating structure between them. Sometimes there is expectation of parallelism raised by earlier discourse or background knowledge in which it occurs; whereas Japanese "mo" only has to draw upon the connection with the associate to become acceptable. Then the problem is: how much parallel structure drf and associate construct in the course of discourse flow, and more specifically how effortless the recipient needs to be in order to search drf in the previous utterance. At one end “Tom lives in Paris and Mary also lives there” is a textbook example and both English and Japanese pose no problems; at the extreme end on the opposite, there is an extralinguistic, non-verbal case. In one example in my Japanese data, he is making a parallel reference to another player on TV without verbal reference to him. In another example, the interviewer can utter a sentence with mo even without sharing the same common ground with the two interviewees, i.e., both look handsome to the interviewer, hence one-way knowledge; one is the restaurant’s owner and the other his young brother. But, without shared knowledge, "also" or "too" would be impossible. Two more examples should be mentioned: one is in between the two extremes; the other far behind the extreme, extralinguistic case, firmly conventionalized in Japanese language. Interaction by way of "mo" in Japanese is characterized by additional sequences with synchronized joint efforts of the participants in conversation, in order to not go further into an excessive state of affairs by one participant who takes the lead in the speech.