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Sentence-final focus particles in Cantonese

Law, Yan Kei Ann; (2004) Sentence-final focus particles in Cantonese. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis aims at gaining a better understanding of the syntax, semantics and pragmatics of Cantonese sentence-final particles and, in particular, two focus particles zaa3 ('only') and tim1 ('also'). Despite their importance in the language, these particles have not been well studied. Research on the two sentence-final focus particles will also contribute to the area of focus which has attracted much attention in recent years. A two-position account for the syntax of all sentence-final particles occurring in the CP domain couched in the minimalist framework (Chomsky 1995) is proposed to explain observations on their syntactic distributions, scopal properties and interactions with other elements such as questions and quantifiers. Focus particles, zaa3 ('only') and timl ('also'), and the particle laa3 ('inchoative') occur in the lower position (SFP2), immediately under the higher topic, while other particles that encode speech acts, speaker-oriented modality and epistemic knowledge are generated in the higher position (SFP1) in the Force field (Rizzi 1997). Following Rooth (1985, 1992), I suggest that the sentence-final particles zaa3 ('only') and tim1 ('also') are focus operators that associate with identificational focus (E. Kiss 1998, Ballantyne Cohan 2000). A distinction between information focus and identificational focus is drawn and three identificational focus-marking devices in Cantonese are discussed, namely contrastive stress. Right Dislocation and the cleft hai ('be')-construction. In addition to their respective restrictive and additive semantics, the sentence-final particles also encode procedural information (Blakemore 1987, 2000, 2002) that constrains inferential computations of conceptual representations. It is shown that scalar usage is a reflection of their procedural information encoded, and conditions licensing their usage are also discussed.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Sentence-final focus particles in Cantonese
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Language, literature and linguistics; Cantonese
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10101610
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