A Phonological Study on Japanese Discourse Markers

  • Published : 1996.02.01


A spontaneously spoken, natural Japanese discourse contains many instances of the so-called redundant interjections and of backchannel utterances. These expressions have not hitherto received much attention and few systematic analyses have been made. We show that these utterances are characterizable as discourse markers, and that they comprise a well-defined category, characterizable in a regular manner by their phonologico-prosodic properties. Our report is based on an experiment involving spontaneously spoken conversations, recorded in a laboratory environment and analyzed using digital devices. Prosodic patterns of discourse markers occurring in the recorded conversations have been analyzed. Several pitch patterns have been found that characterize the most frequently used Japanese discourse markers