The forms and meanings of English rising declaratives: Insights from Cantonese = 从粤语见解英语升调陈述句的形式和意义

John Clinton Wakefield

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


The study reported in this paper exploited the existence of a pair of semantically related Cantonese question particles (me1 and aa4) to learn more about the forms and meanings of the tones that mark declarative questions in English. First each particle was defined using Wierzbicka’s (1996) natural semantic metalanguage (NSM). Cantonese-to-English translations were then elicited from native-bilinguals to discover the English-equivalent forms of the particles. The NSM explications proposed for me1 and aa4 are hypothesized to apply equally to their English-equivalent forms. The results of this study provide empirical evidence that suggests there are at least two forms of rising declaratives in English with distinct meanings. It is argued that high-rising (but not mid-rising) declaratives express a prior belief in the negative form of their propositional content. The conclusions of this study add some significant and meaningful details to Gunlogson’s (2003) study, which, as far as the author knows, is the most thorough treatment of the meaning of rising declaratives to date.

本文通过研究一对意义相关的粤语提问助词(“咩”和“呀”)来进一步了解英语提问陈述句中声调的形式和意义。本文首先用Wierzbicka (1996)的“自然语义原语言”来定义“咩”及“呀”的含义;然后诱发母语双语者进行粤英翻译,进而发现英语中对应的形式。研究假设“自然语义原语言”对“咩”及“呀”的定义同样可适用于其对应的英语形式。研究结果提供的实证表明英语升调陈述句中至少有两种意义不同的形式。高升调(非中升调)陈述句表达说话者说话前一直持有对句子命题内容相反的看法。Gunlogson (2003)是迄今为止最为详尽的英语升调陈述句意义的研究。本研究结论则在Gunlogson研究的基础上补充了某些重要及有意义的细节。

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-149
Number of pages41
JournalJournal of Chinese Linguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014

User-Defined Keywords

  • Cantonese question particles
  • Sentence-final particles
  • Rising declaratives
  • Queclaratives
  • me1
  • aa4
  • 粤语提问助词
  • 句末助词
  • 升调陈述句
  • 提问陈述句


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