East Asian Pragmatics, Vol 4, No 2 (2019)

The use of utterance particles as assessment resources in Cantonese conversation

Ricardo Moutinho, Weng I Lao
Issued Date: 12 Nov 2019


It has been reported in the literature that each language has very particular resourcesthat show how participants mark their epistemic positions (Hayano, 2011;Iwasaki & Yap, 2015; Kärkkäinen, 2003, 2007; Thompson, 2002). Our main objectivein this article is to discuss and explicate the use of these resources in a conversationcarried out by young adults in Cantonese. We discuss how conversationalistsmark and manage their epistemic positions through assessment devices carried outby certain utterance particles (ā ma, ge, and gám) and other combining resources(such as use of first person plural pronouns, modal adverbs, and tag questions). Todo so, we focus on the competition of rights to make assessments, turn design, andthe sequential positioning of each participant during the interaction. Our resultsshow that participants always search for ratification of their assessments and thatthe use of the three particles analysed herein play a fundamental role in this process.This work seeks to contribute to other studies that have analysed specific resourcesthat participants use when claiming or defeating rights during the evaluation processof a matter at hand in languages other than English.

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DOI: 10.1558/eap.37219


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