Extracting commitments: rising intonation and 'ba' in Mandarin

  • Xuetong Yuan

Abstract

This paper investigates the particle ba and its interaction with the rising intonation in Mandarin. The paper presents novel data showing that ba can appear with rising tone only when the speaker is very certain about the prejacent, and that she invites the addressee to be committed to the prejacent as well by using the rising intonation. This is contrary to falling ba-declaratives, which typically express the speaker’s uncertainty. We formalize the effects of a rising ba-declarative by associating ba and the rising intonation to the following contextupdating conventions: one, ba adds the content of the prejacent to the speaker’s projected commitment set; two, the rising tone adds the content of the prejacent to the addressee’s projected commitment set. The account reconciles the seemingly contradictory effects of rising/falling ba-declaratives, and explains the ‘special’ effect of rising tone in ba-declaratives.
Published
2021-09-17
How to Cite
Yuan, X. (2021). Extracting commitments: rising intonation and ’ba’ in Mandarin. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 25, 908-923. https://doi.org/10.18148/sub/2021.v25i0.974