Modal and Speech-Act Constraints on Clause-Linkage

Project leader: TSUNODA Tasaku
Professor, Department of Crosslinguistic Studies, NINJAL
Research field: linguistics
Keywords: clause-linkage; modal constraints; speech-act constraints

Summary

Consider the following Japanese sentences, which contain the conjunction =kara 'cause/ reason'.

(1) Ame=ga hut-ta=kara, ensoku=ga tyuusi=ni nat-ta.
'Because it rained, the picnic was cancelled.'
(2) Miti=ga kon-de i-ta=kara, ziko=ga at-ta=no=ka=mo sir-e-na-i.
'Because the road was crowded, an accident might have happened.'
(3) Megane=wa terebi=no ue=ni ar-u=wa=yo. Itumo sagas-i-te i-ru=kara.
'Your spectacles are here, because you are always looking for them.'

In (2), the main clause 'it rained' expresses the cause of the subordinate clause 'the picnic was cancelled'. In contrast, in (2), 'the road was crowded' is not the cause of 'an accident might have happened'. What (2) means is: On the basis of the fact that the road was crowded, I infer that an accident might have happened. That is, the subordinate clause presents the premise on which the inference in the main clause is based. Similarly, in (3), 'you are always looking for them' is not the cause of 'your spectacles are here'. What (3) means is: I inform you that your spectacles are here, because you are always looking for them. That is, the subordinate clause presents the premise on which the statement in the main clause is made.

The use of =tame=ni, which describes 'cause/reason', is different from that of =kara 'cause/reason'. =kara can be replaced with =tame=ni in (1), but it cannot in (2) or (3). Similarly, the conjunctions that express condition 'if', e.g. -tara and =nara, have different uses respectively. The conjunctions that denote concession ('although'), e.g. =ga and =keredomo, too, differ from one another in their use.

The present project investigates the use of conjunctions of (i) cause/reason, (ii) condition, and (iii) concession in about 30 languages of North and Central Americas, Oceania, Asia, the Caucasus, and Africa.