The Pragmatic Nature of the So-Called Subject Marker Ga in Japanese: Evidence from Conversation

Discourse Studies 2 (1):55-84 (2000)
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Since the inception of modern approaches to grammar, Japanese ga has been treated as a marker indicating the grammatical relation `subject.' If this is an accurate characterization of ga, then we would expect ga to occur to mark a grammatical category consisting of `A' and `S'. Our examination of the contexts in which ga is actually used in everyday Japanese conversations shows that this expectation is not borne out. Our findings suggest that it is not appropriate to describe ga in terms of a grammatical relation such as `subject', and that ga may be much less a grammatical marker than a discourse-pragmatic one.



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