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I've come across the sentence

父は休みの日はずっとテレビを見ている。(My father spends his days off watching television all the time.)

where it doubles in using the は particle. From another post, it seems that this would be a valid sentence if one of the particles marks the topic, while the other marks a constrast. Yet in this case, it seems that both particles mark the topic as I don't believe there is anything obvious to contrast. Would I happen to be missing something here?

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    "there is anything obvious to contrast" -- don't you think 休みの日は marks contrast with weekdays?
    – macraf
    Apr 1, 2020 at 9:43
  • @macraf I did consider that, but from the 2nd answer in the linked post, the pattern given seems very distinct from this one, so I'm not too certain on that part.
    – user154989
    Apr 1, 2020 at 9:50
  • (besides the other answer being not a canonical one) "the pattern given seems very distinct" -- really? Is that because in the examples for "Contrast of objects", like: 「イタリア語は話せないんですが、韓国語は話せますよ!」 "I cannot speak Italian, but I can speak Korean", OP did not include 「私は」?
    – macraf
    Apr 1, 2020 at 9:58
  • @macraf I think I see what you're saying. In the sample senteces, all instances of は are for contrast, so it means in all of the sentences we could insert new は so long as they mark the topic, or provide additional contrast, but never the topic twice? That does make sence, but if 休みの日 marks contrast with weekdays, why couldn't 父 mark contrast with 母 or 弟?
    – user154989
    Apr 1, 2020 at 17:22
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    My intuition as a native speaker also says this is more like a "double-topic" sentence rather than a contrastive sentence; replacing the second は with に does not change the nuance largely, which might imply the second は is not contrastive. I also wonder how this type of sentence is explained by grammarians. Meanwhile, I can say this sentence is perfectly natural.
    – naruto
    Apr 2, 2020 at 2:18

1 Answer 1

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There are situations when something being contrastive doesn't necessarily mean intentional implication. Contrast lays in possibility of several candidates, especially so binary pairs like speaker/listener, while implication lays in our intention to deliver information indirectly. And while it's impossible to imply without having several options, having several options doesn't have to bring implication.

Some of such examples can be 実は or 今日は. Both have a very strong contrast with a lie and other days, but at the same time both are often used without intention to imply anything else. The main factor in figuring out whether person tries to imply something or not, in my opinion, is mutual understanding. The more and better people know each other, the easier to deliver intended meaning indirectly using wording, gestures, facial expressions and other things. Culture also affects it, for example, generally Japanese people try to praise others and humble their own achievements, and such things like insults would go against it. This leads to a situation that people's faults often would be expressed indirectly, and it changes people's understanding. All situations related to praises have higher chance to include implication, people become conscious of it and either start to use or avoid it.

My opinion about は differs in some places from classical は explanations. I look at it from more practical view, and in my opinion は strongly relates with our feeling about what we want to talk. Such way if person wants to talk about 父 and still keep it within 休みの日 context, there is no other way than to mark both by は particle. Comparing to other double-triple subject sentences like 象は鼻が長い, that can be transformed into 象の鼻は長い and other variations, 父は休みの日はずっとテレビを見ている is much more rigid. Despite both contrast and implication are connected, if we want to talk about implications, we have to look not to much at contrast, but speaker's intention.

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