An Analysis of Chinese Tag Questions with a Cross-Linguistic Comparison to English Tags

Translated Titles





忻愛莉(Ai-li C. Hsin)

Key Words

中文附加問句 ; 英語附加問句 ; 對比分析 ; Chinese tag question ; English tag question ; contrastive analysis


Taiwan Journal of Linguistics

Volume or Term/Year and Month of Publication

14卷1期(2016 / 01 / 01)

Page #

69 - 119

Content Language


Chinese Abstract


English Abstract

This study analyzes Chinese tag questions in contrast to English tag questions. Whereas English tags are syntax-based, Chinese tags are more discourse-based and the choice of tag verbs is decided mainly according to the speaker's discourse intentions, such as asking for an agreement of the host proposition, seeking consent of an invitation, making a refutation, etc. The Chinese tag question comprises a tag verb in the interrogative form, namely V-not-V, V-particle, or Neg-V-particle, and a null "pro" of CP, which is identical with the host sentence. The various interrogative forms of the tag verb display varied degrees of presupposition from the speaker. Tag verbs include mostly the declarative tags of "dui", "shi", "you", etc. and imperative tags of "hao", "xing", "keyi". Some epistemic modals such as "yinggai", "keneng" and some discourse commentary verbs such as "guai", "zan", "ku", "sheng", etc. can also be tag verbs, though in relatively low frequency. From the cross-linguistic comparison, it is concluded that English tags might be harder for Chinese EFL learners to acquire than Chinese tags for English CFL learners due to the syntactic complexity of canonical tags and irregularity in formation in non-canonical tags.

Topic Category 人文學 > 語言學
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