Discourse within a sentence: An exploration of postpositions in Japanese as an interactional resource

Makoto Hayashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study explores a phenomenon in Japanese conversation that might be regarded as "discourse-within-a-sentence," or interpolating a sequence of talk during ongoing sentence construction. It explicates the way in which Japanese speakers use postpositional particles as a resource to incorporate an element in a parenthetical sequence into the syntax of a sentence-in-progress. It is shown that the usability of postpositions for achieving discourse-within-a-sentence comes from the situated workings of post-positions used in a wider range of interactional contexts. Through a detailed examination of relevant instances from transcribed Japanese conversations, this study addresses such issues as (i) "sentences" in interaction as both a resource for, and an outcome of, intricate interactional work; (ii) postpositions as resources for retroactive transformations of turn-shapes in Japanese; and (iii) the relationship between typological features of the grammar of a language and forms of interactional practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-376
Number of pages34
JournalLanguage in Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2004


  • Conversation analysis
  • Grammar and interaction
  • Japanese
  • Postpositions
  • Typology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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