Particles of (Un)expectedness: Cantonese Wo and Lo

  • Yurie HaraEmail author
  • Eric McCready
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10091)


Cantonese has a number of sentence-final particles which serve various communicative functions. This paper looks into two of the most frequently used particles, wo3 and lo1. We propose that wo3 and lo1 are expressive items: Wo3 indicates unexpectedness of the propositional content or the current discourse move, while lo1 indicates expectedness of the propositional content or the current discourse move. We employ Default Logic to characterize the notion of (un)expectedness by normality conditionals. The analysis has a further implication on the Gricean Cooperative Principle in that the use of wo3 and lo1 makes reference to the general world knowledge which includes conditions on how the discourse should normally proceed.


Particle Expressive Conventional implicature Default logic Expectedness Discourse relation Grice Cooperative principle 

Supplementary material


  1. Asher, N.: A default, truth-conditional semantics for the progressive. Linguist. Philos. 15, 463–508 (1992)CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  2. Asher, N., Lascarides, A.: Logics of Conversation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2003)Google Scholar
  3. Baayen, H.R.: Analyzing Linguistic Data: A Practical Introduction to Statistics Using R. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baayen, H.R., Davidson, D., Bates, D.M.: Mixed-effects modeling with crossed random effects for subjects and items. J. Mem. Lang. 59, 390–412 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baayen, R.H.: LanguageR: data sets and functions with “Analyzing Linguistic Data: a practical introduction to statistics” (2013). r package version 1.4.1
  6. Bates, D.: Fitting linear mixed models in R. R News 5, 27–30 (2005)Google Scholar
  7. Davis, C.: Decisions, dynamics and the Japanese particle yo. J. Semant. 26, 329–366 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. DeLancey, S.: Mirativity: The grammatical marking of unexpected information. In: Plank, F. (ed.) Linguistic Typology, vol. 1, pp. 33–52. De Gruyter, New York (1997)Google Scholar
  9. Grice, H.P.: Logic and conversation. In: Cole, P., Morgan, J. (eds.) Syntax and Semantics. Speech Acts, vol. 3, pp. 43–58. Academic Press, New York (1975)Google Scholar
  10. Horty, J.: Reasons as Defaults. Oxford University Press, Oxford (2014)Google Scholar
  11. Kuznetsova, A., Brockhoff, P.B., Christensen, R.H.B.: lmerTest: tests in linear mixed effects models (2015). r package version 2.0-29
  12. Luke, K.K.: Utterance particles in Cantonese Conversation. J. Benjamins Pub. Co., Amsterdam (1990)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. McCready, E.: What man does. Linguist. Philos. 31, 671–724 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. McCready, E.: Varieties of conventional implicature. Semant. Pragmatics 3(8), 1–57 (2010)Google Scholar
  15. McCready, E.: Reliability in Pragmatics. Oxford University Press, Oxford (2015)Google Scholar
  16. Nute, D.: Defeasible logic. In: Gabbay, D., Hogger, C. (eds.) Handbook of Logic for Artificial Intelligence and Logic Programming, vol. III, pp. 353–395. Oxford University Press, Oxford (1994)Google Scholar
  17. Pelletier, J., Asher, N.: Generics and defaults. In: van Benthem, J., ter Meulen, A. (eds.) Handbook of Logic and Language, pp. 1125–1177. MIT Press, Cambridge (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Potts, C.: The Logic of Conventional Implicatures. Oxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics. Oxford University Press, Oxford (Revised 2003 UC Santa Cruz PhD thesis) (2005)Google Scholar
  19. R Core Team: R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria (2015).
  20. Reiter, R.: A logic for default reasoning. Artif. Intell. 13, 81–132 (1980)MathSciNetCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  21. Schlenker, P.: Maximize presupposition and Gricean reasoning. Nat. Lang. Semant. 20, 391–429 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Stalnaker, R.: Assertion. In: Cole, P. (ed.) Syntax and Semantics, pp. 315–322. Academic Press, New York (1978)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Creative Science and EngineeringWaseda UniversityTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Department of EnglishAoyama Gakuin UniversityShibuyaJapan

Personalised recommendations