Relevance Theory: Pragmatic account of the sentence-final particle nhỉ in Vietnamese

Ngoc Tai Huynh, Nhung Thi Tuyet Nguyen


Pragmatic particles play a significant role in interactions mediated by speech, as they are used as a means of conveying a speaker’s attitude toward either the addressee, the situation, or their own assumptions and emotions. As Blass (2000) contended, besides the function of conveying a speaker’s attitudes to an addressee, pragmatic particles can also indicate that the speaker has certain evidence for the truth of the proposition expressed, i.e., indicating that both the speaker and listener are aware of the evidence. In our study, we observed that, in Vietnamese, the sentence-final particle nhỉ might also have the properties of a pragmatic particle. This paper, therefore, aimed to analyze the Vietnamese sentence-final particle nhỉ within the framework of relevance theory to determine if this particle can be considered a relevant information marker in the Vietnamese language. By analyzing data extracted from a well-known literary text, Picked Wife (Kim Lan, 1962), the study found that nhỉ signals newly perceived information that is relevant to the speaker.


Pragmatic particles; Vietnamese; Relevance theory; Relevant information marker

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