Interpreting Cantonese utterance-final particles in bilingual courtroom discourse

Ester S M LEUNG*, John Gibbons

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines an unusual feature of spoken Cantonese - the utterance-final particle - to see how it is deployed and rendered by interpreters in courtroom discourse. The data is based on five rape trials heard in the Hong Kong courtrooms. It is a known fact that different participants in the courtroom construct their version of the truth utilizing different linguistic devices. However, different language systems have different linguistic phenomenon which may be common in one language but non-existent in another. Utterance particle is one of those unique language devices in Cantonese which is not available in English. Court interpreters often find themselves facing the task of maintaining the coherence and modality of all the participants' languages while interpreting for these different language systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-215
Number of pages26
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

User-Defined Keywords

  • Cantonese
  • Court interpreting
  • Utterance particles


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