The role of the overt expression of first and second person subject in Japanese

Duck Young Lee*, Yoko Yonezawa

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)


    While much attention has previously been paid to the well-known phenomenon of subject omission in Japanese, the flip side of the same phenomenon - namely, cases where the subjects are overtly expressed, in particular even in typical environments for the omission - has been neglected in the literature of Japanese linguistics. Focusing on first and second person subjects, the current study details the role of their overt use in conversations, and shows that in addition to the function in discourse contexts, such as 'contrastiveness' and 'emphasis', the overt expression of first and second person subjects is a useful tool to index the speaker's social relationship with the other participant, such as social difference or intimacy. This is particularly important for a group of pro-drop languages like Japanese and Korean, in which the expression of difference is the norm and a variety of personal references play a significant role in expressing such difference, as well as intimacy.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)733-767
    Number of pages35
    JournalJournal of Pragmatics
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008


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