Japanese Society and Culture


Japanese topicalization, topic marker wa, aboutness relation, experimental pragmatics

Received Date


Revised Date


Accepted Date


Publication Date



This study investigates the comprehension of a Japanese topicalized construction with the structure NP1 wa (topic) NP2 da (copula) by native speakers of Japanese. The meaning of this kind of sentence can be extremely ambiguous when NP1 and NP2 do not refer to an identical referent. However, it is usually not considered ambiguous when used in a particular context since the context indicates how it is meant to be understood. This study examines the uses of this construction in experimentally controlled contexts. The results indicate the significant effects of the syntactic or semantic relation with the particular verb in the context and the NP2 or information about a particular place presented by a locative frame. These results facilitate a new understanding of the ‘aboutness’ relation, which is established through the process of interpreting an NP1 wa NP2 da sentence in the context.

Creative Commons License

Copyright is held by the author, with all rights reserved.