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A Study of the Sentence-Closing Particles in Japanese Dialects
In the spoken sentences of modern Japanese dialects, some particular element is frequently attached to their ends. This element serves to call the attention of and make an appeal to the hearer; in other words, it is an emotional component of a sentence. This additional element may reasonably be called at the level of accidence a sentence-closing particle. It is easy to find that this part of speech is unique in the structure of a sentence. The sentence-closing particle makes more conspicuous than anything else the difference between the sentence structure of modern western languages and those of Japanese dialects.
The present author, who makes it his aim to establish linguistics for the Japanese language, has been engaged in the study of sentence-closing particles. In one of his books, A Dialect Grammar of Japanese (Sophia University Press. Tokyo; 1965.), he named these particles 'cess-ationals' for want of a better term, but he now does not think it quite appropriate. The fact is that a sentence-closing particle is a special type of appealing word standing at the close of a sentence and conveying to the hearer its ultimate expressive value.
It is also distinct from the tag in the English question "It is fine today, isn't it?", because in English we not only put the sentence in interrogative form but also place a slight pause or a comma immediately before the tag. A sentence-closing particle in Japanese is, on the other hand, the concluding part of a sentence structure without any such intervening element, as in "Kyō wa ii tenki desu. nā".
In many dialects of present-day Japanese, a vast number of words are employed as sentence-closing particles. It is such a striking feature alien to any other modern languages that it deserves attention as a remarkable phenomenon of man's linguistic life. Human instinct to clearly communicate one's mind has led to the device of appealing to the hearer by means of sentence-closing particles. No doubt this is a good subject for linguistics, the science which is devoted to the study of human speech.
The present essay is intended to arouse a greater interest in and the awareness of the significance of sentence-closing particles. It is divided as follows.
I. Survey of Sentence-Closing Particles
We have made a most extensive observation of emotional components at the end of a sentence, and discussed about the making and function of what we call sentence-closing particles.
II. Classified List of Sentence-Closing Particles in Japanese Dialects
III. On Final Appealing Phonemes
We can sometimes recognize some phonetic element which is a near equivalent of, but no so complete as to be regarded as, a sentence-closing particle. A brief description has been given of the final appealing phoneme [a].
IV. On Sentence-Closing Particles Transferred from Interjections
There is a class of sentence-closing particles converted from interjections. Examining their function and emotional effects in a sentence, we have shown the spontaneity and necessity of appealing in conversation.
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