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My question is about this sentence:

我が社の商品は値段を上げません。 (wagasha no shouhin wa nedan wo agemasen)

At first I thought there was a typo ("wagasha wa shouhin no nedan wo agemasen" or something like "wagasha no shouhin wa nedan ga agarimasen/ageraremasen"), but I was reassured this is not the case by two 先生 of mine.

That は would actually be a の, but it's changed to は to add emphasis. So it's not a topic-は, it's more a contrastive-は(?)... or so I thought, because I've never heard of an emphatic-は (please don't confuse "focus" (集点) with "emphasis" (強調), which is a different thing).

Moreover, even if the one in the sentence is not a topic-は, I can't have one at all in this sentence (while I can have a topic-は and as much contrastive-は as I want). Specifically I've been told I can't put in wareware wa as a topic: 我々は、我が社の商品は値段を上げません。

However it's grammatically correct to think the subject is "wareware ga"... 我が社の商品は我々が値段を上げません。 ...but I won't ever find a sentence like this.

I've studied this topic (は と が) really hard and never came across something like this. The explanation I've received is seriously lacking: it's more or less what you can expect of a native speaker (who knows what sounds right, but can't tell you why) so I ask you. Is it true that not just が and を can be replaced by は, but also の? Can you give me more examples and help me to reason this out?

Every answer will be very much appreciated

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(1) The word is 焦点, not 集点。(2) Why would you use romaji when you are clearly already dealing with kanji and intermediate grammar? Kana would suffice. This is not a question romaji-users could answer accurately to begin with. So why attract them? (3) I seriously detest your blatant discrimination against us native speakers. –  非回答者 Dec 30 '13 at 22:05
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@TokyoNagoya Perhaps you should be reminded that everyone on this site is a native speaker. His implication that most native speakers can not give detailed grammar explanations is true and holds for native speakers of all languages. It should not be offensive to you or anyone. –  Darius Jahandarie Dec 31 '13 at 1:09
    
I seriously detest your blatant discrimination against us native speakers. Hahaha. Actually, I find native-speaker descriptions of Japanese to make deeper sense than non-native-speaker descriptions (my pet peeve being the different way the 活用形 system is explained). Perhaps this is because Japanese is a more logical language, with clear reasons behind everything...traditional native analyses of Mandarin are so bad, even a native speaker me could pick out obvious large classes of exceptions to rules etc. –  user54609 Dec 31 '13 at 4:52
    
I found your lack of common sense disturbing, Tokyo Nagoya. 1.Thanks for pointing out an obvious typo. 2."Attract them"? What are "they" to you? Some kind of 害虫? 3.I must thank Darius, his explanation should suffice, but since user54609 got the wrong idea, let me add this. It's not about native speakers vs non-native speakers! It's about native speakers and native-speakers who are also competent in this field of studies. Moreover I have every right to be pissed at a sensei who doesn't even know why you use "ga" in a clause of reason (and please note I'm in 10th class, the more advanced). –  Kokoroatari Jan 1 at 15:11
    
@Kokoroatari Ah yes. Too many classes are taught by teachers with no sense of linguistics. On the rōmaji-users thing, most people I know have never learned Rōmaji except as a two-week stopgap as they learn hiragana; two-week students of Japanese are unlikely to be able to answer such questions. Apparently in the past people learned Rōmaji-only for a year or more, though (That sounds so terrible! Most of my practice comes from reading ja.wikipedia.org with dictionary help which is not in Rōmaji!). –  user54609 Jan 1 at 16:43

2 Answers 2

Disclaimer: I am not a native speaker; I think my sentences are correct but they might sound slightly weird.

This is a case where the topical 〜は sets a "domain of discourse", i.e. a context. The following noun 値段 is indirectly implied to belong to the context noun 我が社の商品.

This may sound confusing, so here are some simpler examples:

日本語は、文法が難しい。

Talking about Japanese, the grammar is hard.

So the exact meaning is slightly different from

日本語の文法は難しい

Japanese's grammar is hard.

In the first case, you first establish "OK, we are talking about Japanese here", then you say, "The grammar is hard". Since we have the overarching topic of Japanese, we can do things we can't do just with の, for example:

日本語は、文法は難しい。でも、発音はとてもやさしい。

Talking about Japanese, the grammar is hard. But the pronunciation is easy!

We can do this because the 日本語は topic or "overarching theme" hasn't expired yet.

But with の, it means something strange:

日本語の文法は難しい。でも、発音はとてもやさしい。

The grammar of Japanese is hard. But pronunciation (as a whole, of all languages) is easy!

In this case, the "pronunciation" has no relationship to "Japanese", so it refers to pronunciation or phonology as a whole, i.e. in general for all languages.

This also explains the usage of が with あります. Too many people are taught "が replaces を" which is completely wrong. This usage relies on は's nature:

私は本があります。

Talking about me: there's a book (that's mine)

Many other languages have a similar structure, such as Latin:

Angelis alae sunt.

"To angels, wings exist" = "Angels have wings"

天使には翼があります。

TL;DR: は does not replace の here, it means what は means. Through its topic-setting nature, it indirectly implies possession in some cases, but also many other things, such as being able to extend the topic through several sentences.

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Thank you for your reply. I was explicitly told it's not topical. As I wrote, I wouldn't have been surprised by 我が社の商品は**値段が**上がりません。. Because this is the structure you're talking about. Ex.: 源太くんはおじいさんが病気/俺は頭が痛い/彼女は性格が悪い/私は(not には)子供がいます The point is... if you look at Genta's sentence, you can put a "no" instead of wa, but than you have a proper subject for the sentence (with GA)! The same goes for you're first sentence. In my sentence there wasn't a subject. So I thought it could have an implied subject as topic of the sentence (我々は), but I was told I can't put it in as a pure topic. –  Kokoroatari Dec 30 '13 at 16:17
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No, the thing with が isn't a "structure". The person who told you it's not topical is probably wrong. The topical has nothing to do with が; が is only a common sentence pattern, but the topical is a very logical set of rules, not some random pattern you memorize. So: 我が社の商品は値段を上げません。 = Regarding our company's products, we won't raise their prices. –  user54609 Dec 30 '13 at 16:44
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Why the disclaimer? OP clearly states that s/he wants no answer from a native speaker. –  非回答者 Dec 30 '13 at 22:00
    
User54609, I'm not talking about a 文型, it just happened I used that word. My 悩み is about the lack of a subject and the sensei's statement that I can't add 我々 as a topic, nor as a subject with ga. My thought is simple: - if 我が社の商品は is topical (as you say, and please note I feel the same about this), I should be able to add 我々が without any complaint from my sensei - if 我が社の商品は isn't topical (as my sensei said) I should be able to add 我々は as topic at the beginning of the sentence –  Kokoroatari Jan 1 at 15:24
    
追加 I'm impressed by your knowledge of Latin. I wouldn't usually expect someone who's not Italian to know Latin (because you're NOT Italian, are you?). –  Kokoroatari Jan 1 at 15:28

I take it to be saying...

We don't raise the prices of our products

OR

Regarding our products, we don't raise their prices.

我が社の商品 means our companies' goods. I don't know what your teachers are telling you, but this definitely seems like it is the topic は to me. 上げません = to increase. 値段を is then the 直接目的語. I'm inferring the subject is "we" but it could be "you" or some other subject given in prior context...

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How could "you" or someone else raise the prices of "our company's products"?? –  非回答者 Dec 30 '13 at 21:29
    
@TokyoNagoya, if "we" is a distributor that uses retailers. The retailers may be able to set their own prices. But I guess if that were the case, a 可能形 or different case should be used. –  virmaior Dec 31 '13 at 0:16

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