Variation in the use of sentence final particles in Macau Cantonese

Werner Botha, Lawrie A. Barnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This paper considers how meaningful social information is conveyed with the use of sentence final particles in Macau Cantonese. The purpose in this research is to provide a general sociolinguistic account of sentence final particles in Macau Cantonese, and specifically to illustrate that social meanings of SFPs are variable, and do not constitute rigid or fixed meanings and interpretations. These social meanings, this paper argues, are a potential for indicating speaker identity at the individual level, and constitute a rich resource for communicating speaker identity in Macau Cantonese. This study uses an eclectic sociolinguistic approach, and combines elements of distributionist analyses, social network theory and constructionist approaches with a view to accounting for the dynamics underlying sentence final particle variation. Finally, this research considers constraints such as conversation topic, the affective relations between interlocutors, and gender as impinging on the distribution and use of SFPs in Macau Cantonese.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-296
Number of pages20
JournalChinese Language and Discourse
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • External Linguistic Constraints
  • Language Variation
  • Macau Cantonese
  • Sentence Final Particles
  • Social Network Theory


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