Segmentless sentence-final particles in Cantonese: An experimental study

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A sentence-final particle (SFP, henceforth) is an optional component for a sentence in Cantonese. Traditionally an SFP contains at least one independent segment. The present study proposes that for sentences without a segmental SFP, sentencefinal intonation can act as a segmentless SFP. Systematical acoustic experiment was conducted based on this assumption. Two cross-cutting dichotomies were compared: declarative versus declarative-question, and absence versus presence of a segmental SFP. The results show that for sentences with a segmental SFP, the SFP itself carries the function of expressing intonation. For sentences without a segmental SFP, pitch shows extraordinary patterns to express intonation of the sentence, which can be regarded as a segmentless SFP.
傳統來說,粵語句子的句末助詞可有可無,而句末助詞一般具有獨立的音段。本文提出句末助詞可以是超音段的:傳統認為沒有句末助詞的句子,實際上都帶有句末語調,以音高曲線變化的形式作用在句末音節上。本文為此對有句末助詞和沒有句末助詞的陳述句和疑問句進行了系統的聲學實驗比較研究。實驗結果表明,若句子有句末助詞,句子在音高方面沒什麼特殊變化;若句子沒有句末助詞,句末音節通過特定的音高變化來表達某種語調。這些特定的音高變化即為超音段的句末助詞。 Copyright © 2014 by T.T. Ng Chinese Language Research Centre, Institute of Chinese Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-60
JournalStudies in Chinese Linguistics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


Zhang, L. (2014). Segmentless sentence-final particles in Cantonese: An experimental study. Studies in Chinese Linguistics, 35(2), 47-60.


  • Sentence-final particles
  • Segmentless
  • Intonation
  • Pitch
  • Cantonese
  • 句末助詞
  • 超音段
  • 語調
  • 音高
  • 粵語
  • Alt. title: 粵語超音段句末助詞的實驗研究


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