Discourse particles: Where cognition and interaction intersect-The case of final particle ey in Shishan dialect (Hainan Island, P.R. China)

Susan Strauss, Xuehua Xiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Based on spontaneous dyadic and multi-party conversation data, we examine final particle ey in Shishan, a dialect of Lingao (Tai-kadai language family) through the multiple lenses of: tense/aspect, stance marking, interpersonal interaction, and evidentiality. In order to explicate the semantic-pragmatic functioning of Shishan ey,22Particle ey occurs utterance-initially, utterance-medially, and utterance-finally, though instances of utterance-initial and utterance-medial ey are much less frequent. The cognitive-interactional functions of the particle differ according to placement. The current paper addresses ey only in utterance-final position. we provide brief comparisons with the aspectual/interactional functions of Mandarin le, the interactional functions of Mandarin final particles ou and a, and Cantonese final particle wo. We analyze the Mandarin and Cantonese particles from the points of view of the multivariate facets of speaker stance and compare them to Shishan ey. We note that in interactional discourse, the linguistic expression of evidentiality of Shishan ey is triggered by an external, interactionally-based signal. Specifically, when the particle emerges in collaboratively-built talk, it serves to signal the speaker's instantaneous discovery of a speaker-hearer epistemic mismatch and to simultaneously re-gauge the hearer's orientation toward evidence that emerges in the immediate context. By illuminating the semantic and pragmatic meanings of this form, we hope to advance the study of interactional particles as essential grammatical components of linguistic systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1287-1312
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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