Volume 29, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0957-6851
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9838
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This study discusses the pragmatic functions of four Chinese equivalents of the English ‘sort of’ based on a Chinese TV forum corpus: (有点), (一点), (有一点), (可以说). It finds that the Chinese ‘sort of’ tends to cluster with verbs or adjectives rather than nouns. ‘Sort of’ is infrequent in the formal setting of this study and serves three pragmatic functions: mitigation, approximation and evasion, with the first two functions being much more frequent than the last one. ‘Sort of’ performs more of an interpersonal than an informational function. This study highlights the elasticity of ‘sort of’ in Mandarin Chinese in the form of fluidity, stretchability and strategy, contributing a fresh account of pragmatic markers. This study implies that elastic language use is a natural part of linguistic competence (particularly pragmatic competence) and forms a strong bond with effective linguistic communication.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Chinese; elastic language; vague language; vagueness; ‘kind of’; ‘sort of’
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