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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
March 2024
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Book description

'Salience' is a linguistic phenomenon whereby information that is 'given', or 'new', is distributed and presented within a sentence in particular ways that convey its relevance. Although it has been widely described as the speaker's linguistic choices based on the hearer's perspective, it has received less attention as the speaker's manipulations of the hearer's cognitive states. This timely study redresses that balance by analysing several morphosyntactic phenomena in Japanese, drawing on a wide range of authentic language examples. Taking a functionalist perspective, it brings together studies of grammar and discourse, which are often described separately, and deploys the combined grammar-discourse approach in Role and Reference Grammar, the structural-functionalist theory in which syntax, semantics, and pragmatics are equally central to our understanding of language. It also offers an analysis of second language (L2) learners' Japanese discourse, and demonstrates the relevance of that analysis to issues outside of traditional second language research.


‘Shimojo’s book breaks new ground in the investigation of information structure in Japanese. It explores important issues in the syntax-pragmatics interface using discourse data collected from L1 and L2 Japanese speakers and applying the approaches of Role and Reference Grammar and Centering Theory. The result is a revealing and insightful account of the role of salience in the analysis of the interaction of syntax and discourse in Japanese.’

Robert D. Van Valin, Jr - University at Buffalo (SUNY) and Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf

'The exploration of NP-wa vis-à-vis zero anaphora on the one hand and NP-ga on the other has been a central issue in Japanese linguistics. Despite the substantial body of literature dedicated to this subject, recent years have seen minimal progress. This book reexamines previously addressed observations and introduces novel findings, aligning with the ongoing trend towards more inclusive approaches in linguistic analysis to account for a spectrum of syntactic phenomena influenced by context and pragmatics. The study is anchored in a meticulous literature review and an analysis of the author’s experimental data, notably incorporating sentences created by L2 learners of Japanese. This contribution significantly enhances our understanding of the salience of information encoding in discourse, solidifying its place as an indispensable reference for years to come.'

Yoko Hasegawa - University of California, Berkeley

‘This book is a very welcome development in Role and Reference Grammar, as it is grounded in natural discourse data, and so pushes the envelope on our understanding of the role of pragmatic factors in determining morphosyntactic form, covering not only focus structure, but also reference, cohesion, and salience.’

Randy J. LaPolla - Beijing Normal University and Nanyang Technological University

‘This book is an essential reference in the study of discourse salience, its morphosyntactic realizations and attention control functions in discourse. Through in-depth investigation of authentic L1 and L2 Japanese texts, the author revisits and refines the bidimensional model of salience and illustrates the strengths of parallel architecture theories in the exploration of the discourse-morphosyntax interface.’

Delia Bentley - Professor of Linguistics, The University of Manchester

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