Periphery – Diachronic and Cross-Linguistic Approaches
  • ISSN 1566-5852
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9854
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This paper examines how utterance-final interrogative particles in Chinese contribute to the management of local and global coherence in conversational discourse. Using Schiffrin’s (1987) model of discourse coherence, and focusing in particular on the Cantonese particle we show how an interrogative particle is often also used as an interactional particle. In the case of , we show how this information-seeking particle is frequently recruited as an affirmation-seeking and solidarity-enhancing device. Special attention is given to the extended uses of in terms of Schiffrin’s exchange and action structures, as well as participation frameworks and information states. Our analysis highlights how speakers effectively use utterance particles as exemplified by to convey their (inter)subjective footing and in the process negotiate meaningful affiliative/disaffiliative interaction among interlocutors, and thereby achieve discourse coherence for effective communication.


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