First Advisor

Suwako Watanabe

Date of Publication

Fall 11-28-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Japanese


World Languages and Literatures




Evidentials (Linguistics), Japanese language -- Usage, Language transfer (Language learning), Information theory



Physical Description

1 online resource (v, 88 pages)


Evidentials are one of the language codes that convey the speaker's beliefs in terms of the degree of reliability of information and how the speaker obtained information (Chafe, 1986; Ishida, 2006; McCready and Ogata, 2007). Evidentials play an important role in communication since they also function to show the speaker's attitude toward the interlocutors by making a sentence softer (Trent 1998). In his theory of territory of information, Kamio (1990, 1997, 2002) proposed that pragmatic rules of evidentials are different in Japanese than in English. Ishida (2006) studied these differences and argued that learners of Japanese (JF learners) face difficulties when conveying information with evidentials in Japanese.

This study aimed to see how learners of Japanese as a foreign language (hereafter JF learners) use evidentials differently from Japanese native speakers by replicating Ishida's (2006) study. Discourse data, consisting of utterances produced by Japanese L1 speakers (J-speakers) in Japanese and JF learners in Japanese and English, was produced based on twelve situations where participants were instructed to convey hearsay information verbally to the specific third party. Collected productions were compared to see differences in the frequencies of evidentials, in general, and in terms of the source of information, the timing of conveyance, and the addressees. The study showed that JF learners use evidentials less frequently both in Japanese and English than J-speakers. This less frequent use of evidentials by JF learners in both languages indicates a transfer effect from English to Japanese. Additionally, a close look at each evidential use revealed other factors that might impact the speaker's choice of evidentials. This study revealed that JF learners tend to prefer to use evidentials such as soo da and to itta, while they tend to avoid using lexical evidentials such as rashii, mitai da, and yoo da which require more practice. These findings have implications for future research and for a classroom pedagogical approaches to the use of evidentials.


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