Monday, October 6, 2008

Pragmatic Particles

I've come up with a productive exercise- summarizing chapters from my reference grammar (A Reference Grammar of Thai, ARGT) by finding examples in my Doraemon manga (which is the only natural text I have which I can read.)

This post regards pragmatic particles, a topic I had previously pretty much ignored. Bad idea- these are intrinsic to the language. Chapter 15 of ARGT details 14 PPs. They are distinct from speech-level (politeness) and question particles

Since I don't use phonetic transcriptions, and they're a pain to type (all the accents), I'm going to stick with Thai, even though there's a lot of pronunciation variability. On some the initial consonant is sometimes dropped, meaning ล่ะ and น่ะ are both sometimes pronounced อ่ะ.

Also the variations listed in the reference grammar aren't exhaustive.
Also a general "I don't know what I'm doing" disclaimer applies to my translations.

General particles.
These work with statements/questions, and commands.

1. น่ะ / นะ / นา
Common ground. This particle is extremely common. When it's directly translated in ARGT, they use phrases like "okay?", "you know?", "isn't it?", "right?"
Apparently, the high tone "tends to solicit a response"; the low tone is more forceful.
หวังว่าคงถูกคนดีๆ มาเก็บไปนะ
"I hope they might be taken by a good person."

"What did you do?"

2. สิ / ซิ
"The primary function of this particle is to confirm information with some authority in tone."
This seems to be most common in commands and replies.

"Come help me grab it."

"Keep watching."

3. เลย
"Emphasizes the excessiveness of the situation as the speaker sees it"
I thought it was just an intensifier (like จัง) but I guess it's more subjective. It can also be used in commands.

"(You) sit around absent-minded every day."

"It's coming directly (at us)."

4. เชียว
Similar to เลย, but also can indicate surprise or suspicion-confirmation.

"I've raised it from when it was an egg."

5. ซะ
Derived from/shortened form of เสีย, and acts like an aspect marker... unless it's a command, then it's a "mild encourangement" PP.
"If you're hurt, then practice fooling some other people."

Information-oriented particles
These are limited to statements and questions.

6. ล่ะ / เล่า
"Elaboration request," usually used with questions.
"Presents!" (What'd you bring me?!)
"What fib could you think up?" (mockingly)
7. และ / แหละ
(This is where this gets confusing.)
This is derived from แล้ว, and when used with a verb/adjective, it has its original perfect/anterior aspectual usage.
But when used after a "verb/adjective phrase or a noun phrase", it indicates that the noun concept it follows is the "focused element" or the "sole alternative."

"If he isn't better, then it'll stay this way."

"So that we could flee those bombs."

8. ล่ะ / ละ / (and หละ ?)
Similar to #7 (and a homonym of #6), but conveys "the speaker's evaluation of the inevitability of an action."

"We need to go down into the nest."

(ARGT notes that while ล่ะ is derived from แล้ว, it has become a distinct word- this is an example of them co-existing.)

9. หรอก
Counter argument; correct assumption. Usually used with a negative statement.

"No, we don't have time to do it that way."

10. นี่
Discovery- points out a critical fact just discovered.

"Doraemon hasn't returned yet."

11. ไง
directing attention- to an object or fact

"(something) that will give me more strength."

12. แน่ะ
Similar to #11, but also used to emphasize "notable amounts" when there is a quantity expression.

"My friends are calling me."

(Since this sentence doesn't contain any quantity, I'm not sure if the "notable amount" meaning applies, but it would fit the context- "my friends are calling me a lot", or something like that.)

13. ล่ะมั้ง / มั้ง
"Maybe he already returned."

Action-oriented particles
These (well, ARGT only mentions one) are only used with commands.

14. ถอะ / เถอะ / เหอะ
Hortative ("lets")

"Let it go!"

"Let's go help!"

ARGT further details a common combination, นี่ + น่ะ, which is usually mushed together into:

15. (นี่ + น่ะ =) เนี้ย เนี่ย เงี้ย
"What's this!?"
I am now really sick of particles! Next: aspect (which I have mostly finished) and then probably question-word questions.

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