Volume 30, Issue 3
  • ISSN 0172-8865
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9730
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In this paper, we present paradoxical properties of the discourse particle hor in Singapore English and attempt to resolve them. Hor has been described as an attenuator of illocutionary force, which is used to convert statements and commands into questions and requests. We provide a new observation that it can also be used as a booster of illocutionary force to make strong statements and demands. We claim that these paradoxical properties are consequences of hor’s nature to mark a nonstandard discourse context in which there is an asymmetry in epistemic or deontic authority between speaker and hearer vis-à-vis a proposition. In a context where epistemic / deontic authority for a proposition lies with the speaker, hor serves as a booster of illocutionary force. In a context where such authority rests with the hearer, hor serves as an attenuator.


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