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Commas as a constructional resource: the use of a comma in a formulaic expression in Japanese social media texts

  • Fumino Horiuchi EMAIL logo and Toshihide Nakayama EMAIL logo


This paper examines the use of punctuation in Japanese in order to investigate its role in formulaic expressions. Specifically, we will study the use of a comma before the copula complex dakedone at the end of an utterance. Typically, punctuation is considered a matter of style in written representations and is generally not included in studies about the structure of formulaic expressions. However, in a corpus-based study on language use on social media (e.g., blogs, Twitter, online forums), we found that this comma is frequently used for a distinct pragmatic effect. The patterns of use, both structural and functional, are observed to be regular and predictable, enough to suggest that the comma is part of a fixed formal complex that has a unique meaning, i.e., a construction. This in turn suggests that commas, even though they are punctuation, can be a formal resource that constitutes part of a formulaic expression.

Corresponding authors: Fumino Horiuchi, Daito Bunka University, 560 Iwadono, Higashimatsuyama-shi, Saitama 355-8501, Japan, E-mail: ; and Toshihide Nakayama, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, 3-11-1 Asashi-cho, Fuchu-shi, Tokyo 183-8534, Japan, E-mail:


This paper was based on an oral presentation at the 162nd Meeting of the Linguistic Society of Japan (June 26th, 2021). The research for this paper was supported in part by JSPS KAKENHI Grants #17KT0061, #19K13226, and the ILCAA joint research projects ‘Exploration into the Dynamicity of Grammar (1): Multiplicity and Distributedness in Grammar’ and ‘Exploration into the Mechanism of Language Change and Variation through the Dialogue between Theoretical Linguistics, Linguistic Typology, and Quantitative Linguistics.’


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Received: 2021-10-03
Accepted: 2022-05-27
Published Online: 2023-05-04
Published in Print: 2023-05-25

© 2023 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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