East Asian Linguistics Workshop: "The Structure of the Intonation Unit in Japanese: Looking Back, Looking Forward, and Looking Over the New Horizon" by Shoichi Iwasaki

Dr. Shoichi Iwasaki
Fri February 16th 2024, 4:30 - 6:00pm
Event Sponsor
East Asian Linguistics Workshop
Knight Building, Room 102
Event poster for Dr. Iwasaki's Talk

We would like to invite you to join us for an upcoming talk entitled "The Structure of the Intonation Unit in Japanese: Looking Back, Looking Forward, and Looking Over the New Horizon" by Shoichi Iwasaki (Professor Emeritus in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA) as part of the East Asian Linguistics Workshop series. The event will be held on Friday, February 16, 4:30-6:00PM (Pacific, USA) in the Knight Building Room 102. Dinner will be served to registrants afterward.

If you are interested in this talk, please complete this RSVP Form or email me at harumi56 [at] stanford.edu (harumi56[at]stanford[dot]edu), to sign up by 11:59pm (Pacific) on Wednesday, February 14.


The Structure of the Intonation Unit in Japanese:Looking Back, Looking Forward, and Looking Over the New Horizon

In my earlier work on Intonation Units (IUs) in Japanese, I showed that Japanese IUs tend to be phrasal in contrast to English IUs, which tend to be clausal. I explained this tendency by demonstrating that many Japanese phrasal IUs code multiple concerns, such as interpersonal awareness and cohesive relations, in addition to the information to create a proposition. Drawing on this earlier study, I pursue three new topics in this talk. The first is English speakers’ use of phrasal IUs under cognitive pressure. The second is the use of “clause templates” by English and Japanese speakers. While English speakers adhere to the clause template which specifies the order of constituents, Japanese speakers more freely deviate from the order of constituents. This suggests the different degrees of template entrenchment in the two languages’ grammars. Finally, I will present my current IU research, which looks at the physical length of IUs in the two languages. Interestingly, the average length of IUs in both languages is about one second. I will discuss the significance of this length, and propose that the ‘one-second’ space explains the preference of phrasal IUs in Japanese and clausal IUs in English.


Shoichi Iwasaki received his Ph.D. in Linguistics from UCLA in 1988. He is professor emeritus in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA. His research areas include Japanese linguistics, Thai linguistics, discourse analysis, functional linguistics, and minority language description (Ryukyuan). He has published books on theoretical issues of topic marking in Japanese discourse and subjectivity in grammar and discourse, as well as reference grammars of Japanese and Thai, a textbook of the Okinawan language and a dictionary of an endangered Ryukyuan language, Ikema. More recent published journal articles include topics on multiple grammars (Cognitive Linguistics 2015, Journal of Pragmatics 2018) and stance marking in Asian languages (Journal of Pragmatics 2015, Text and Talk 2023). His current project is to analyze conversations among unacquainted speakers on the topic of Covid-19 in six different languages.