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Modality and the Japanese Language
by Yuki Johnson, University of Toronto

In English, the concept of modality has been the subject of studies crucial to the understanding and functioning of the language. Modality and the Japanese Language is innovative as an English-language text that examines a wide range of grammatical categories in terms of both modal and propositional content – namely, modal auxiliaries, aspectual categories, and conditionals – and reveals a new approach to Japanese modality that relies more centrally on concepts developed in studies of English modality.

Johnson finds many practical and theoretical similarities between English and Japanese modal auxiliaries and argues that modality can be thought of as an expression of the degree of a speaker’s conviction concerning a proposition’s truth or realization in the form of possible/non-actual words. Such a definition provides practical and applicable perspective to the study of Japanese modality: propositions, for example, become objects of that study in the form of conditional sentences and aspectual categories.

Yuki Johnson received her Ph.D. in Japanese linguistics from the University of Minnesota. She served many years as Director of the Japanese Language Program at the University of Michigan and then at the University of British Columbia, and is now an Associate Professor of Japanese Linguistics at the University of Toronto.

Published by Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan
Michigan Monographs in Japanese Studies No. 44
Published 2004, 295 pp.
ISBN 1 929280 18 1, hardback, £50.00