How to share words in the mind in Japanese conversation~ said-type vs. thought-type quotations~

Yuko Nomura

Graduate School, Japan Women's University, Japan

WS132: Cultural Values and Language Behaviour: Focus on Asia

This study attempts to reveal what Japanese speakers are focusing on when they have conversation through quotations. It will be shown that, in Japanese conversations, quotations that show speakers’ internal thoughts are frequently used. In conclusion it is stated that, in Japanese conversation, speakers put an importance on sharing what they have in their minds. Finally the relation between the use of quotation and Japanese linguistic resources will be mentioned.

The data analyzed in this study consists of 13 Japanese conversations in an experimental setting collected in June 2004. The participants of the each conversation are two close female friends, aged from 20 to 22. Their occupation is college student. They were asked to talk freely about what they were most surprised at in their lives for about five to eight minutes. Total time of the data is 68 minutes. All the conversations were DVD-recorded and transcribed.

In the previous study on quotation, the primary focus was on linguistic expression of reported speeches and usually treated as grammatical problems e.g. difference in the forms of direct and indirect speech, or as rhetorical subjects, e.g. direct speech can make the whole utterance more dramatic and vivid than indirect one(Kamada 2000, etc.) However, in this study quotation is considered as one behavior that people display when they communicate. ?

In my analysis, all the quotations are classified into two types, namely said-type and thought-type quotations. The former is a quotation which is quoted from some utterance or written text and is used to report what the quotee has said in a certain context.(ex. “Sumimasen, oki te kudasai,” tte itta ndesu (I said, “ Excuse me. Please wake up”)). The latter is a quotation, which quotes words in quotee’s mind and is used to show what quotee has thought about in a certain context (ex.“Do shi yo” tte omoi masu yo ne.(We think, “what should we do?”)) The result of quantitative analysis is that 67.2% of quotations are thought-type and 32.8% are said-type. This result shows that in Japanese conversations, speakers quote more often to convey what they think. Further analysis shows that the said-type quotations are used in one way, whereas the thought-type quotations are in two ways, which could be one of the reasons why thought-type quotations occur more frequently than said-type.

In conclusion, it can be said that Japanese speakers focus on exchanging what they have in their mind by frequently using thought-type quotations. The use of thought-type quotations, which can tell words that are invisible from the outside, makes it easier for the speakers to think and feel the same way. It is also suggested that Japanese language has linguistic resources that makes it possible to talk in this way.

Session: Workshop (part 1)
Cultural Values and Language Behaviour: Focus on Asia
Saturday, April 5, 2008, 11:00-12:30
room: 18