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Particle Ellipses in Japanese
Department of Study
Degree Granting Institution
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
In this study I consider two kinds of particle ellipsis, syntactic particle ellipsis and conversational particle ellipsis. Syntactic particle ellipsis (discussed in Chapter 1) is the type of particle ellipsis caused by certain syntactic conditions. Only case particles are ellipted under these conditions. When one of these conditions is satisfied, the naturalness of case particle ellipsis (or retention) varies from "totally natural" to "totally unnatural" depending on the particle and the function it performs. To describe this phenomenon, I hypothesize that there is a hierarchical relation among case particles which perform different functions regarding their ellipsis and retention. Statistical data supports this hypothesis.
Conversational particle ellipsis (discussed in Chapters 2, 3 and 4) is another type of particle ellipsis which takes place in conversation even if none of the conditions for syntactic particle ellipsis are satisfied.
Chapter 2 discusses the ellipsis of the topic marker wa in conversation. Here, I show that the ellipsis of wa marking X is natural if the speaker and the hearer maintain close contact with the referent of X at the moment of speech.
Chapter 3 presents some general rules of case particle ellipsis in conversation. In one of these rules I claim that the ellipsis of the case particle (CP) of an NP-CP is unnatural if the NP-CP conveys the idea of exclusivity, i.e., the idea "not others but X" or "X and only X."
Chapter 4 discusses the ellipsis of the case particles ga and o in conversation. Here, I demonstrate that the ellipsis of ga in an utterance is natural if the speaker believes the utterance carries a certain kind of information. I also show that the position of an NP-ga or NP-o in a sentence affects the naturalness of the ellipsis of ga or o.
This study reveals that statements like "recoverable particles can be ellipted" cannot explain the ellipsis of particles, that the ellipsis of particles is a matter of degree of naturalness rather than naturalness versus unnaturalness, and that various aspects of language, including phonology, syntax, information and situation, have bearing on the ellipsis of particles.