Volume 2, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1877-7031
  • E-ISSN: 1877-8798
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Some linguists have argued that sentence-final particles (SFPs) are only meaningful in relation to the content of the discourse. This is of course an empirical matter subject to investigation. Adopting a working hypothesis that SFPs have core meanings independent of the discourse context, this paper proposes definitions for two evidential SFPs in Cantonese with related meanings: lo1 and aa1maa3. The method for developing the SFPs’ definitions is adopted (with modifications) from Besemeres and Wierzbicka’s (2003) proposal for defining “discourse markers.” Corpus-based examples and constructed minimal-pair dialogues are used to demonstrate that the definitions succeed at accounting for all the contexts that allow one, the other, both, or neither of the SFPs to be used based on acceptability judgments from native-Cantonese speakers. In addition to furthering our understanding of the two SFPs under discussion, this paper provides empirical evidence in support of the idea that discourse particles have context-independent meanings.


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