Japanese n deshita in Discourse: Past Form of n desu

Hironori NISHI

Abstract


N deshita/datta, which is the past-tense form of n desu/da, has not been explored in depth in studies of Japanese Linguistics. The present study examines a large corpus, and explores the cases of n deshita/datta used for past events and situations. The findings of the present study show that out of the 167 cases of n deshita/datta used for past events and situations in the corpus, 63 cases (37.7%) co-occurred with grammatical elements that require past-tense connections for the preceding item such as the sentential ending particle kke, the tara structure, and the tari structure. For the cases of n deshita/datta that co-occurred with kke, tara, or tari, it was concluded that the grammatical restrictions arising from these elements triggered the occurrences of n deshita/datta. On the other hand, 104 cases (62.3%) occurred without any grammatical elements that require past-tense connections. These cases of n deshita/datta in the corpus were used to express the speaker’s recollection of previously held knowledge, or as part of confirmation seeking utterances for previously held knowledge.


Keywords


Japanese; discourse analyses; past tense; n desu; n deshita; n datta

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4312/ala.7.1.41-56

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