Quoting and topic-marking: Some observations on the quotative <i>tte</i> construction in Japanese

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<i>Tte</i> is a frequent marker in Japanese conversation exhibiting multiple discourse functions: as a quotative, topic-marker, utterance-final pragmatic particle, and utterance-initial repair marker. We focus on the relationship between the original quotative function and the topic-marking function found in conversational portions of novels spanning 200 years. Three patterns are suggested: <i>tte </i>(1) forms a link between itself and part of the previous speaker’s utterance through immediate repetition, (2) relates itself with an entity present in the current context, or (3) introduces the name of an entity not present in the current context (keeping track of it). It is possible that the more concrete, relational aspect of <i>tte</i>, connecting utterances/objects, is weakened and the referential aspect, introducing referents, develops over time.


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