Have there been any English language attempts (preferably readily-available) to define Japanese particles from the perspective of discourse analysis? Some of the things I would be interested to see such an analysis of:

  • The use of sentence-ending particles such as na, no, ne, yo, etc.
  • The use of focus and emphasis particles such as zo
  • Whether an explicit subject is represented using wa or ga
  • Whether wa/ga/wo are explicitly stated (most common) or are "dropped" and their noun phrases bare in a clause (grammatical in some contexts)
  • Which discourse grammar framework do you have in mind? Off the top of my head there's functional discourse grammar, systemic functional grammar, discourse analysis, and I'm sure there are other approaches. Sep 9, 2012 at 7:50
  • Sorry for the ambiguity. I was thinking "discourse grammar" in the sense of The Grammar of Discourse, one of the books on discourse analysis I've read. I've rewritten the post to reflect that. Sep 9, 2012 at 21:45
  • Aha, the Longacre book? Sep 9, 2012 at 23:54
  • There are a bunch of 英語 papers covering one or two particles at a time, particularly wa/ga, yo, ne, and zo/ze, but I've never seen an English book. Honestly, I suspect your only chance is to look at the 日本語 publications.
    – taylor
    Sep 10, 2012 at 17:10

1 Answer 1


Concerning discourse markers:
Maynard, Senko (1993) "Discourse modality: Subjectivity, emotion and voice in the Japanese language" (John Benjamins Publishing Company) is seminal work.
Newer work can be found in Onodera, Noriko O. (2004): Japanese Discourse Markers: Synchronic and Diachronic Discourse Analysis (John Benjamins Publishing). Check out the reference sections of these books for detailed studies.

Concerning wa/ga (not an issue of discourse analysis):
To my knowledge there is no English language monograph dedicated to this issue. Try Heycock, Caroline (2008): Japanese -Wa, -Ga, and Information Structure. p54-83. (Oxford Handbook of Japanese linguistics, OUP) as a starting point. But please note that the Japanese language literature on this topic is massive.

Concerning the omission of wa/ga/o (not an issue of discourse analysis either):
I suggest you browse Tsujimura, Natsuko (2013): An introduction to Japanese linguistics 3rd. (Wiley Blackwell). She's pretty thorough.

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