English Speaker Acquisition of Topic and Subject in Multiple Clause Sentences in Japanese

  • Shinichi Shoji Mie University
Keywords: Japanese; topic; subject; matrix clause; subordinate clause

Abstract

This study investigated native English speakers’ acquisition of the constraint for topic-wa and the preference for subject-ga in multiple-clause sentences in Japanese. The constraint for topic-wa is that the topic-wa cannot appear in certain types of subordinate clauses, and the preference for subject-ga is that the overt subject-ga in a subordinate clause should not overlap the topic for a matrix clause. Two sentence-completion experiments were conducted with native English-speaking participants, who were considered advanced-level Japanese learners, as well as native Japanese-speaking participants (the control group). The results indicated that although English speakers followed the constraint for the topic-wa, they frequently used the topic-wa as non-subject topics (unlike native Japanese speakers) when an embedded subordinate clause intervened between the topic-wa and the rest of the matrix clause. Also, English speakers used the same subject-ga for both subordinate and matrix clauses, unlike the native Japanese speakers’ preference. The outcome implies that English speakers associated the topic-wa with English non-subject topics, and the subject-ga with English subjects.

Section
Articles
Published
May 13, 2020
How to Cite
Shoji, S. (2020). English Speaker Acquisition of Topic and Subject in Multiple Clause Sentences in Japanese. Studia Orientalia Electronica, 8(1), 63-84. https://doi.org/10.23993/store.82595