Year 30 No. 3 (2022): Issue 3/2022

Utterance-Final Pragmatic Markers in Spoken Mandarin: The Case of (Nĭ) Zhīdào Ma/Ba (你)知道吗/吧

Roma Tre University

Published 12/19/2022


  • pragmatic markers,
  • discourse markers,
  • ni zhidao,
  • corpus-based

How to Cite

LEPADAT, C. (2022). Utterance-Final Pragmatic Markers in Spoken Mandarin: The Case of (Nĭ) Zhīdào Ma/Ba (你)知道吗/吧. L’Analisi Linguistica E Letteraria, 30(3). Retrieved from


The current study addresses the pragmatic marker (nĭ) zhīdào ma/ba (你) 知道吧/吗 ‘you know’, aiming to identify the (a)symmetries between (ni) zhidao ma and (ni) zhidao ba used in utterance-final position in oral interactions. The research questions include aspects mostly unaccounted for by previous studies, including the marker’s position in the turn, the S(peaker)’s gender, the H(earer)’s response or reaction to the utterance, and the relationship between S and H. Based on the results of the quantitative and qualitative analyses of 173 occurrences extracted from 12 hours of spontaneous telephone conversations, significant differences set apart the two variants, possibly due to the particles’ original pragmatic meanings and resulting in a tendential division of labour. Most prominently, the ma-variant tends to occur in turn-final position and to trigger more explicit responses, while the ba-variant mostly occurs in turn-medial position to maintain S’s turn and H’s attention.


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