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Open Access Published by De Gruyter Mouton January 6, 2010

Why Can a Japanese Unagi-Sentence Be Used in a Request?

  • Yagihashi Hirotoshi
From the journal Lodz Papers in Pragmatics

Why Can a Japanese Unagi-Sentence Be Used in a Request?

The objective of this paper is to reveal why the so-called Unagi-sentence in Japanese can be widely used in the context of request within the framework of cognitive linguistics and cognitive pragmatics. The Unagi-sentence, which is known as a representative sentence of the Japanese language, has been analyzed for years in various manners from various viewpoints. For instance, the sentence "Boku-wa Unagi-da" when literally translated into English reads I am an eel. One of the most influential reasons for this sentence being regarded as characteristic to Japanese seems to be the clear difference in the sense in that the literally translated version in English means the identification between I and an eel, whereas the Unagi-sentence in Japanese indicates who orders the eel dish or sometimes requests the waiter to put a proper dish in a proper place. This thesis discusses the schematic meaning of the "X-wa Y-da" pattern in Japanese; further, it discusses the tendency for the Japanese language, unlike English, to depend more heavily on contextual information when the construed mental images are encoded. Through the discussion, I will reveal that the study of the Unagi-sentence from the viewpoint of cognitive linguistics sheds a new light on the contrastive studies in the field of pragmatics.


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Published Online: 2010-1-6
Published in Print: 2009-1-1

This content is open access.

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