The use of utterance-final particles in Mandarin teaching

Chin Chin Tseng, Dayoung Yeong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to explore the use of Mandarin utterancefinal particles in online teacher-student interactions. The interactions were carried out by 15 preservice teachers who were graduate students at the Department of Chinese as a Second Language and 6 learners of Chinese as a second language in Singapore. After four online-interaction sessions (24 classes in total), we tagged utterance-final particles in the sentences of the corpus produced from conversation between the teachers and students. The results show that utterance-final particles spoken by students are Ma > A > O > Ba > Ye > Ne = La > Wa, in the order of decreasing frequency. Yo or Ma did not appear in the students speech. The utterance-final particles were used in 15% of the total number of turns by the students, and their most frequently used particles were Ma and A, each accounted for 36% of their total number of utterance-final particles. Utterance-final particles produced by the preservice teachers are Ma > Ne >A > O > Ba > Ye > Ma > Luo > La = Wa > Yo, in the order of decreasing frequency. The utterance-final particles were used in 37% of the total number of turns by the preservice teachers, and their most frequently used utterance-final particle was Ma, which accounted for 58% of their total number of utterance-final particles. This study also looked into the factors that may influence the use of utterancefinal particles, such as regional Mandarin variations (Taiwan vs. Mainland China), preservice teachers primary language(Mandarin or other languages), where the second language learners are originally from, and whether Chinese heritage students speak Mandarin at home. The rate using utterance-final particles of Taiwanese teachers was 8% higher than that of Mainland Chinese teachers, and this result agrees with our general impression on utterance-final particles occur more frequent in Taiwanese Mandarin. The heritage students who speak Mandarin at home used utterance-final particles 2% more than those who do not. The teachers whose primary language is Mandarin used 11% more of the utterancefinal particles than those who speak other languages. In addition, the rate using utterance-final particles of Taiwanese teachers was 8% higher than that of Mainland Chinese teachers, and this result agrees with our general impression on utterance-final particles occur more frequent in Taiwanese Mandarin. In this study, we realized that various factors may affect the frequency of using specific utterance-final particle, such as the power and solidarity between the speaker and the hearer, such as teacher to student. Additionally, our result shows that language background also plays a role in how a speaker uses utterance-final particles. In our future research, we will further analyze the factors that determine the frequency of Mandarin utterance-final particles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-275
Number of pages17
JournalChinese as a Second Language Research
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Oct 1

Keywords

  • Mandarin Chinese
  • online interaction
  • second language acquisition
  • spoken corpus
  • utterance-final particle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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