A Pragmatic and Semantic Study
6. Analysis of Particle a with Interrogatives 167
167 6. Analysis of Particle a with Interrogatives The corpus data of this study reveals an extensive use of particle a with Chinese interrogative sentences. As in English and any other natural languages, Chinese interrogative sentences uttered in discourse are char- acteristically used as questions. A total of 663 questions are found with particle a present in the utterance-final position. These questions can be syntactically classified into three types, namely, question-word questions (qw-questions), disjunctive/choice questions (ch-questions), and yes-no questions. Examination of the corpus data reveals clearly that questions from any of the three types can be genuine or put to uses other than seek- ing information. This chapter focuses on the particle’s roles with different types of questions in their interrogative and non-interrogative uses and on the characterization of the particle’s semantic meanings with questions. 6.1 Particle a with question-word questions (qw-questions) As already mentioned in Chapter 2 (Literature Review), question-word questions are those which are formed with the use of an interrogative pronoun or interrogative adverb like shenme ‘what’, shei ‘who/whom’, nar ‘where’, weishenme ‘why’, etc. Such a word points to a situation as- pect unknown to the questioner. The interrogative words in Chinese are the equivalents of those in English which are often referred to in the literature as ‘wh-words’ and which help form the syntactic category of what is often called ‘wh-questions’ in the English language (see, for example, Greenbaum and Quirk, 1990). To be more accurate with regard to the characteristics of Chinese language, the phrase...
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