To be clear, my level of Japanese is about as elementary as it gets, so it's possible that this question is simply beyond my understanding. Still worth an ask, though!

I was looking at the Wiktionary entry for the particle や when I had difficulty understanding the second of the example sentences:


(saikin wa inu ya neko o katte iru hito wa ōi)

recently, many people are raising [animals like] dogs and/or cats

As I've shown in bold, the topic marker は occurs multiple times in the sentence. If the second one were instead the subject marker が, then that would align more with what I've learned in my Japanese 101 class, as well as with what I've read about elsewhere online. But the fact that it is は puzzles me to no end. It doesn't seem to be contrastive in any way, and the sentence being so short only makes the use of two topic markers even more confusing to me.

Of course, it's possible that the volunteer Wiktionary editor made a mistake when originally devising the sentence, but if not, my question is this: What is the reason for this second は? If it can indeed be changed instead to が, what nuance does that add or subtract?

Thanks in advance for any insight! And just as a reminder, I'm not even halfway through the first Genki textbook yet, so maybe don't go too deep with the Japanese in your answers ^^;

1 Answer 1


The only good explanation I've ever read of this is in Susumu Kuno's "The Structure of the Japanese Language". There are really (at least) two functions of "wa". In this case, both are probably contrastive (there's an implicit comparison being made: "nowadays, ...[, whereas in the past, ...]" and "people who raise cats and dogs [rather than people who don't]]"). This is distinct from the thematic use of "wa", which is probably what you normally think of when you say "topic marker".

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