The Grammaticalization of Indirect Reports: The Cantonese Discourse Particle wo5

  • John C. Wakefield
  • Hung Yuk Lee
Part of the Perspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy & Psychology book series (PEPRPHPS, volume 19)


This paper proposes a definition for the Cantonese sentence-final discourse particle wo5, which marks the proposition contained within a clause as an indirect report that does not belong to the speaker. The methodology for defining wo5 is based on the natural semantic metalanguage theory and draws on Besemeres and Wierzbicka’s (2003: 3) “general model for the investigation of discourse markers,” the goal of which is to “come up with a formula which would make sense in all the contexts in which [the discourse particle] can occur, and which could also explain why in some contexts… [it] cannot be used at all” (p. 19). The definition we propose is discussed in light of what other authors have said about wo5, and is tested against a number of examples within which wo5 can and cannot appear.


indirect reports grammaticalization cantonese discourse particles wo5 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • John C. Wakefield
    • 1
  • Hung Yuk Lee
    • 1
  1. 1.Hong Kong Baptist UniversityKowloon TongHong Kong

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