Here is an excerpt from a novel, AURA〜魔竜院光牙最後の闘い〜 by 田中ロミオ; note the sentence in bold.

悪戦苦闘しながらも、そばには目もくれずにエビ天にかぶりつく良子。 上天もりには二尾のエビを中心にして、キスとかぼちゃとしその天ぷらが脇を固めている。たちまち二尾のエビは魔女の胃袋に消えた。満足そうに手の甲で口元をぬぐう。

The sentence in bold seems to me to mean the same thing as, and to be a syntactic transformation of, the following sentence.


In the transformation, the entire top level clause has been relativized onto its topic and subject, 良子, which has been lifted to the top level of the sentence. The sentence has become a standalone noun phrase.

I've noticed this construction a lot in Japanese writing. Sometimes the standalone noun phrase is accompanied by a copula (without a stated complement), e.g.


But sometimes it's written just as a bare noun phrase, as in the excerpt above.

My question is, is there a term for this kind of transformation / rhetorical device? (I'm not asking what nuance this transformation imparts, just whether there's a name for it.)

BTW, I know that there is a term "体言止め" that refers to ending a sentence with a 体言, often a noun phrase, but that's different from what I'm looking for, because 体言止め includes simple omission of copulas or する without the relativizing transformation that pulls e.g. 良子 to the top level, i.e. the following would also be 体言止め:


as opposed to, say:


which is both 体言止め and an example of what I'm talking about (the relativizing construction that lifts the topic/subject to the top level).

Also, as I mentioned, sometimes the construction actually does include a copula (である, であった) at the end, so it doesn't always end in a 体言 anyway.


山田孝雄, a Japanese linguist, called this type of phrase/sentence 喚体句. This is used to make a sentence sound dramatic and vivid. It is especially common in poetry (haiku, lyrics, ...), but this pattern is often seen in live commentary in sports and in the narrative part of novels, too. He called ordinary sentences (ending with a verb/adjective/copula) 述体句. Unfortunately, these are not terms ordinary people understand.

This blog article says this type of "vivid" noun phrase is also called ト書き連鎖 by 坪本篤朗, but I don't have access to the original article. Looks like this is a term that is hardly known even among experts.

As you pointed out, 体言止め is neither very accurate nor specific to describe this concept. An ordinary sentence that simply omits だ/する can be called 体言止め, too. And this type of noun phrase can appear in the middle of a sentence, before だが/でしたが, etc.

  • 俺の名は新一。
    (体言止め, but no relative clause)
  • 一瞬戸惑った僕だったが、すぐに気を取り直した。
    体言止め-ish, but not at the end of the sentence

However, 体言止め is at least widely known, and it does include a sentence like かぶりつく良子. Also, 体言止め can describe the main role of this pattern; to make an expression impressive. Unless you have to be highly linguistically accurate, I think you can safely use the word 体言止め to describe the pattern in question. For example, see my previous answer.

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