A relevance-theoretic account of the pragmatic marker ba in Mandarin Chinese

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Abstract

This paper aims to present a proposal for a relevance-theoretic description of the use of the particle ba in Mandarin Chinese. The result of the analyses of the data shows that ba is a pragmatic marker with a similar function in declaratives, interrogatives and imperatives, i.e. to indicate hearer-oriented weak commitment towards either the proposition expressed (declaratives, interrogatives) or the speech act expressed (imperatives). The results also indicate that ba can be compared to tags such as English yeah, right? and innit? and that it is often used more generally to engage the hearer in the conversation and expressing politeness with no real intention of allowing for a response or confirmation from him/her.

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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History and Archaeology

Keywords

  • discourse markers, pragmatics, Relevance Theory, Mandarin Chinese
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-287
JournalJournal of Chinese Linguistics
Volume38
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes