Softness, assertiveness and their expression via Cantonese sentence-final particles

Grégoire WINTERSTEIN, Regine LAI, Pei Sui Zoe LUK

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters

Abstract

This chapter examines the linguistic correlates of the notions of assertiveness and softness in Cantonese. Specifically, it focuses on a set of sentence-final particles often described as conveying these two values: the particles aa3, ge3, and gaa3. We argue that these elements do not directly encode assertiveness and softness but, rather, that these come as side effects of the conversational and dialogical nature of these particles. On one hand, we argue that aa3 encodes an explicit call on the addressee to mirror the content of the conversational move of the speaker, while on the other hand, ge3 indicates that the utterance of the speaker addresses (and is presented as solving) a salient decision problem in a way comparable to the Japanese particle yo. The particle gaa3 combines the effects of ge3 and aa3. It is then the competition between ge3 and gaa3 that explains the assertiveness attached to the former. Copyright © 2024 selection and editorial matter, Elin McCready and Hiroki Nomoto; individual chapters, the contributors.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDiscourse particles in Asian languages Volume I: East Asia
EditorsElin MCCREADY, Hiroki NOMOTO
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon
PublisherRoutledge
Pages143-170
ISBN (Electronic)9781351057837
ISBN (Print)9781138482432, 9781032448398
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Aug 2023

Citation

Winterstein, G., Lai, R., & Luk, Z. P.-S. (2024). Softness, assertiveness and their expression via Cantonese sentence-final particles. In E. McCready & H. Nomoto (Eds.), Discourse particles in Asian languages Volume I: East Asia (pp. 143-170). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351057837-7

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