7.9. Emotion markers


7.9.1. Sentence-final particles


Japanese has several communication-oriented particles to clarify a speaker's intention. Let's call them emotion markers here. You have learned two other kinds of particles: case markers (postpositions), such as the nominative marker (ga) "ga", and information markers, such as the topic marker (ha) "wa". There are several other categories, but we focus on these three categories now.

Their priority of combining nouns is clearly different. If a noun is followed by each one of the three categories of particles, a case marker is placed immediately after the noun, and an information marker follows it, then emotion markers follow them. Actually emotion markers should appear only at the end of a sentence, so they are called sentence-final particles. They will never appear in relative clauses.

Look at the sample below:

Kana: (ki)(small yo)(u)(ha)    (sa)(mu)(i) (period)
Romanization: Kyôwa samui.
Structure: noun
(today)
topic
marker
adjective
(is cold)
Meaning:It is cold today.

Notice that Japanese doesn't use expletives like English "it" for weather. A noun for time or a place should be the subject of a sentence when you say about weather in Japanese. When you want to say just it is cold, omit the subject.

Even though this sentence is grammatically correct and its meaning is clear, saying it to someone seems to be off the current topic, because it simply tells about today's weather without any intension. A typical reaction of a native Japanese speaker might be "So what?"

Imagine a friend of yours is about to go outside without a coat, and you know it is cold outside so you want to say to him that he should wear his coat. In that case, use the opinion marker (yo) "yo", one of emotion markers, like this:

Kana: (ki)(small yo)(u)(ha)    (sa)(mu)(i)(yo) (period)
Romanization: Kyôwa samuiyo.
Structure: noun
(today)
topic
marker
adjective
(is cold)
opinion
marker
Meaning:I think it is cold today. (Why don't you wear your coat?)

You use the opinion marker to tell your opinions and judgment, and to share new information. It must have a person who directly receives what you say, so it is rarely used in written Japanese except for mail. The opinion marker is often used when a speaker thinks he knows better than a person who receives his opinion.

Most emotion markers are simply added after sentences without changing a word. The polite form of the sentence above should be as follows:

Kana: (ki)(small yo)(u)(ha)    (sa)(mu)(i)(de)(su)(yo) (period)
Romanization: Kyôwa samuidesuyo.
Structure: noun
(today)
topic
marker
adjective + politeness
(is cold)
opinion
marker

If you think it is cold today and you want to talk about it with a friend, you can use the tag question marker (ne) "ne" like this:

Kana: (ki)(small yo)(u)(ha)    (sa)(mu)(i)(ne) (period)
Romanization: Kyôwa samuine.
Structure: noun
(today)
topic
marker
adjective
(is cold)
tag
question
marker
Meaning:It is cold today, isn't it?

Like the opinion marker (yo) "yo", the tag question marker (ne) "ne" is rarely used in written Japanese except for mail.

You can use both of them like this:

Kana: (ki)(small yo)(u)(ha)    (sa)(mu)(i)(yo)(ne) (period)
Romanization: Kyôwa samuiyone.
Structure: noun
(today)
topic
marker
adjective
(is cold)
opinion
marker
tag
question
marker
Meaning:I think it is cold today. Don't you think so?


You can simply say your impression using the impression marker (na) "na", without expecting an answer. It is often used when you talk to yourself. The sentence-final particle (na) "na" sometimes becomes (na)(a) "nâ" if impression is strong. Since the impression marker doesn't expect an answer, it isn't used with the tag question marker (ne) "ne".

Kana: (ki)(small yo)(u)(ha)    (sa)(mu)(i)(na)(a) (period)
Romanization: Kyôwa samui.
Structure: noun
(today)
topic
marker
adjective
(is cold)
impression
marker
Meaning:Oh, I feel it is cold today.

In this case, you might be strongly aware of the freezing atmosphere of a winter morning. The impression marker is not commonly used for something unusual and surprising, for instance freezing atmosphere of a summer day.


7.9.2. The affirmation suffix


The affirmation suffix (no)(da) "noda" is different from sentence-final particles grammatically, but I explain it here because it is similar to them in meaning.

It is a combination of the genitive postposition (no) "no" and the copula (da) "da", so it has the same inflection as the copula. It is a suffix added after a predicator, i.e. a verb, a copula, and an adjective. Unlike sentence-final particles, it can appear in relative clauses. It almost always becomes (n)(da) "nda" in colloquial Japanese. Its polite form is of course (no)(de)(su) "nodesu", and it becomes (n)(de)(su) "ndesu" in colloquial Japanese.

Since the polite mode affects only the last predicator of sentences, the predicator before an affirmation suffix will never be a polite form. Make the affirmation suffix polite instead of making the preceding predicator polite.

The affirmation suffix means you say a fact that is not known or not believed by listeners. You use it when you explain a reason and when you affirm a fact that is not believed by other people. There are many situations where you can use it, and in fact it is quite often used both in spoken Japanese and in written Japanese.

You might think it is similar to the opinion marker (yo), but they are different. You use the opinion marker to share your idea, and you use the affirmation suffix just to affirm a fact. The affirmation suffix is less communication-oriented, which is why it can be used in written Japanese.

Let's compare the following sentences. Subjects are omitted since they are clearly "I" in all the sentences:

Kana: (ni)(ku)(ha)    (ta)(be)(na)(i) (period)
Romanization: Nikuwa tabenai.
Structure: noun
(meat)
topic
marker
verb + negation
(don't eat)
Meaning:I don't eat meat.

Kana: (ni)(ku)(ha)    (ta)(be)(na)(i)(yo) (period)
Romanization: Nikuwa tabenaiyo.
Structure: noun
(meat)
topic
marker
verb + negation
(don't eat)
opinion
marker
Meaning:I don't eat meat. (That's my opinion.)

Kana: (ni)(ku)(ha)    (ta)(be)(na)(i)(n)(da) (period)
Romanization: Nikuwa tabenainda.
Structure: noun
(meat)
topic
marker
verb + negation
(don't eat)
affirmation
suffix
Meaning:To tell you the truth, I don't eat meat. (I'm a vegetarian.)

Notice that accusative markers are overridden by topic markers. The first sentence is a plain one, and it is not often used in conversation. The second one means it is the speaker's opinion. It can be a reply to the question "How about going to a steak restaurant tonight?"

The third one can be a reply to the question "Why do you leave that bacon in your salad?", because the affirmation suffix can be used for explaining a reason. It is not your opinion but just a fact that you don't eat meat.

Here is another example:

Kana: (ti)(ki)(small yu)(u)(ha)    (u)(go)(ku) (period)
Romanization: Tikyûwa ugoku.
Structure: noun
(the earth)
topic
marker
verb
(move)
Meaning:The earth moves.

Kana: (ti)(ki)(small yu)(u)(ha)    (u)(go)(ku)(no)(da) (period)
Romanization: Tikyûwa ugokunoda.
Structure: noun
(the earth)
topic
marker
verb
(move)
affirmation
suffix
Meaning:No matter what you say, the earth moves.

In this case, the affirmation suffix is used to affirm the fact which is not believed by other people. Of course it can mean "To tell you the truth, the earth moves". That depends on context.

If the affirmation suffix is added after the nonpast form of the copula (da) "da", the copula becomes (na) "na". Note that only the nonpast form of the contracted copula is changed. It is similar to the copula in relative clauses, but there is no difference between common nouns and adjectival nouns in this case. Use (na) "na" for both of them.

Kana: (ni)(n)(ge)(n)(ha)    (sa)(ru)(da) (period)
Romanization: Ningenwa saruda.
Structure: noun
(human being)
topic
marker
noun
(monkey)
copula
(is)
Meaning:Human beings are monkeys.

Kana: (ni)(n)(ge)(n)(ha)    (sa)(ru)(na)(n)(da) (period)
Romanization: Ningenwa sarunanda.
Structure: noun
(human being)
topic
marker
noun
(monkey)
copula
(is)
affirmation
suffix
Meaning:The fact is that human beings are monkeys.


Since the affirmation suffix means that you affirm a thing now, its past form is not often used. When you affirm a thing which happened in the past, add the affirmation suffix after a past sentence.

Here is an example:

Kana: (ni)(n)(ge)(n)(ha)    (sa)(ru)(da)(small tu)(ta)(n)(da) (period)
Romanization: Ningenwa sarudattanda.
Structure: noun
(human being)
topic
marker
noun
(monkey)
copula
(was)
affirmation
suffix
Meaning:The fact is that human beings were monkeys.

The affirmation suffix should be a nonpast form, like in the English translation "The fact is that human beings were monkeys."

You can make the affirmation suffix more communication-oriented by adding the opinion marker (yo). In that case, the opinion marker means that you tell new information.

Kana: (ni)(n)(ge)(n)(ha)    (sa)(ru)(na)(n)(da)(yo) (period)
Romanization: Ningenwa sarunandayo.
Structure: noun
(human being)
topic
marker
noun
(monkey)
copula
(is)
affirmation
suffix
opinion
marker
Meaning:In fact, human beings are monkeys. I think you didn't know that.



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