In this talk, I will present a summary of the outcomes of my PhD research which investigates the function of seven Japanese interactive markers (so-called sentence-final particles), ne, na, yo, sa, wa, zo and ze. These markers do not affect the truth-condition of propositional information of an utterance, yet they are almost mandatory for the success of Japanese spoken conversation. Furthermore, they have a certain effect in terms of socio-cultural perspective: for example, they have an effect on the interpersonal relationship between the conversational participants, and are more frequently used in casual conversation than in formal conversation. Also, some of these markers are gender-specific, exclusively used by either men or women.
Given the general and conspicuous features of these markers, my PhD research offers a synthetic analysis of the markers from the interactional perspective in incorporating the three key notions, 'involvement', 'formality' and 'gender', which are particularly influential on the use of the markers, and sheds light on some issues of the nature of spoken discourse. In summarising the outcomes of my research, I will address the following four research questions:
(i) Why are these markers mainly used in spoken language, whereas rarely used in written language?
(ii) What is the common property shared by these markers?
(iii) What is the unique function of each marker?
(iv) What effects does the use of each marker have, and how do these effects influence the speaker's use of the marker within social contexts?