AN ANALYSIS OF CHINESE TAG QUESTIONS WITH A CROSS-LINGUISTIC COMPARISON TO ENGLISH TAGS
Ai-li C. Hsin/ National Kaohsiung Normal University
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.
Key words: Chinese tag question, English tag question, contrastive analysis