The subject of Japanese at the Centre for Languages and Literature conducts research within the field of Japanese linguistics, with special focus on the following topics:

Prosody and its interfaces with syntax and information structure

Prosody refers to the rhythm and the melody of a word, a phrase, or a sentence in a language.  Among various areas within Japanese phonology, prosody is one of the main research areas that is investigated intensively at the Japanese division at Lund University.

The melody of a sentence is determined by various factors. Among them, two factors are especially important: the structure of the sentence (syntax) and the discourse in which the sentence is uttered (information structure). As such, interfaces between prosody and syntax / discourse belong to the major interests of prosody research.

Currently, there is an on-going research project in the subject of Japanese funded by Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet), the phonology of subordinate clauses and syntactic processing in Japanese.


Syntax and implicit prosody

Once we understand more about how prosody interacts with syntax, it will become possible to apply the knowledge on prosody to the study of syntax. By taking prosody into consideration, many of the (apparently) syntactic problems can potentially be given a much simpler account than previously proposed purely syntactic analyses.

Furthermore, it has been shown in the literature that when reading a text silently, prosody plays a crucial role in understanding the syntactic structure of each sentence. In silent reading, the reader builds an abstract prosodic structure in the mental representation, and the so-called implicit prosody influences how the reader is likely to interpret the sentence. Understanding the mechanism of ‘implicit prosody’ is one of the goals of our research.


Information structure / Informationsstruktur

Another aspect of language that is closely related to prosody is discourse information. Depending on the discourse, the same sentence can be produced in many different melodies, as various pragmatic meanings and intensions of the speaker can be expressed by the sentence melody. Information structure has been one of the main research focuses in the research here. See, for example, Féry and Ishihara (2016).


Previous MA theses from the Japanese Studies at Lund

Aside from the specific research topics listed above, previous students have written theses on various other topics within Japanese linguistics: imperatives, the so-called unagi sentence, L2 acquisition of Japanese intonation, etc. Some of the MA theses can be downloaded from here:

Sidansvarig: peter.sivamostas.luse | 2021-02-17