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Dissertation

Chinese Final Particles and the Syntax of the Periphery

In this research, for the first time a detailed description as well as systematic and comparative analysis of the final particle system in Chinese are provided.

Author
Boya Li
Date
08 June 2006
Links
Full text in Leiden University Repository

Chinese languages have a rich inventory of final particles, which typically occur in clause or sentence final position. Most of them do not have a denotative or referential meaning, but are mainly used to convey emotive and/or epistemic nuances within a particular discourse context. Accordingly, most research that has been done on final particles is from the perspective of semantics, discourse and pragmatics. However, it does not mean that final particles are of no syntactic importance.

This thesis endeavors to motivate a syntactic analysis of Chinese final particles. It examines a group of final particles from three Chinese languages, i.e., Mandarin, Cantonese, and Wenzhou. The proposal made in this thesis conforms essentially to the recent hypotheses on the split CP system, according to which the CP layer constitutes a conglomerate of functional projections. This thesis claims that Chinese final particles are heads of functional projections in the CP domain.

In this research, for the first time a detailed description as well as systematic and comparative analysis of the final particle system in Chinese are provided. Furthermore, this research expands the existing cross-linguistic evidence, and hopefully will contribute to our further understanding of the syntax of the periphery.

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