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Title: She knows more about Hong Kong than you do isn't it’ : tags in Hong Kong conversational English
Authors: Cheng, Winnie
Warren, Martin
Subjects: Tags
Tag questions
Tag words
Intercultural communication
Intercultural pragmatics
Corpus-based study
Issue Date: Sep-2001
Publisher: Elsevier
Source: Journal of pragmatics, Sept. 2001, v. 33, n. 9, p.1419-1439.
Abstract: This paper reports on a corpus-based intercultural communication study comparing the syntactic form and pragmatic use of tags by non-native speakers (Hong Kong Chinese) and native speakers of English. It outlines the main findings and seeks to explain where, when, and why tags are used by the two groups of speakers in their conversations. The study shows that when compared with their native speaker interlocutors, the non-native speakers use tag questions much less frequently, but use tag words twice as often. The two groups of speakers also use tags differently to express pragmatic meaning. The non-native speakers display a preference for using invariant tag forms and use tags mostly for seeking confirmation from the hearer. The tags used by native speakers of English are more evenly spread across a number of pragmatic functions: asking for information, seeking confirmation and emphasizing what is being said. Tentative explanations are offered to account for the findings presented.
Rights: Journal of Pragmatics © 2001 Elsevier Science. The journal web site is located at
Type: Journal/Magazine Article
DOI: 10.1016/S0378-2166(00)00080-1
ISSN: 0378-2166
Appears in Collections:ENGL Journal/Magazine Articles

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