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Re: [xmca] intonation and meaning

Thanks for the very interesting examples from Cantonese. I'd forgotten about "particles"; they are used a lot for the purposes for which we mainly use intonation in English, in other languages as well.

Yes, it's a dissertation for sure. Maybe a few. An edited volume I'd like to see someone else do.


Jay Lemke
Educational Studies
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

On May 3, 2009, at 8:30 AM, Ng Foo Keong wrote:

In Cantonese there are many devices that are available to modify the
nuances of meaning.
For example, you can use particles like '啩' [gua-] and '咩'[me¯ \ ] to
express incredulity.
e.g. "唔係啩?" --> "It's not true, is it?" (Are you sure?)
e.g. "喂!你赶住投胎咩?!" --> "Hey! Are you in a hurry to get reincarnated?!"
(Why are you rushing and knocking onto me?!)

But you certainly can make utterances with normal relative-intonation
to express sarcasm.
e.g. "你好嘢!" --> Lit: "You good thing!" (You got me this time, next
time I'll get you!)
e.g. "咁好介绍" --> Lit: "such a good recommendation!" (Yeah, yeah!
Thanks, but no thanks.)

Given the plethora of choices, I still don't know if Cantonese
speakers prefer non-intonational means for expressing irony.
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