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A contrastive study of tag questions in english with their vietnamese equivalents

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING
HANOI OPEN UNIVERSITY

M.A. THESIS

A CONTRASTIVE STUDY OF TAG QUESTIONS IN ENGLISH
WITH THEIR VIETNAMESE EQUIVALENTS

(NGHIÊN CỨU ĐỐI CHIẾU CÂU HỎI ĐUÔI
TRONG TIẾNG ANH VỚI NHỮNG TƯƠNG ĐƯƠNG
TRONG TIẾNG VIỆT )

NGUYỄN THỊ NGÂN

Hanoi, 2016


MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING
HANOI OPEN UNIVERSITY

M.A. THESIS


A CONTRASTIVE STUDY OF TAG QUESTION IN ENGLISH
WITH THEIR VIETNAMESE EQUIVALENTS

(NGHIÊN CỨU ĐỐI CHIẾU CÂU HỎI ĐUÔI
TRONG TIẾNG ANH VỚI NHỮNG TƯƠNG ĐƯƠNG
TRONG TIẾNG VIỆT )

NGUYỄN THỊ NGÂN

Field: English Language
Code: 60220201

Supervisor: Do Kim Phuong, Ph.D

Hanoi, 2016


CERTIFICATE OF ORIGINALITY

I, the undersigned, hereby certify my authority of the study project report
entitled A contrastive study of tag questions in English with their
Vietnamese equivalents, submitted

in

partial

fulfillment

of the

requirements for the degree of Master in English Language. Except where
the reference is indicated, no other person‘s work has been used without due
acknowledgement in the text of the thesis.

Hanoi, 2016

Nguyen Thi Ngan


Apporoved by
SUPERVISOR

Date…………………………

i


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This thesis could not have been completed without the help and support
from a number of people.
First and foremost, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to PhD. Do
Kim Phuong, my supervisor, who has patiently and constantly supported me
through the stages of the study, and whose stimulating ideas, expertise, and
suggestions have inspired me greatly through my growth as an academic
researcher.
A special word of thanks goes to all my classmates and many others,
without whose support and encouragement it would never have been
possible for me to have this thesis accomplished. I am greatly indebted to all
my knowledge and understanding I got at Ha Noi Open University for their
constant support and encouragement.
Last but not least, I am greatly indebted to my family, my husband for the
sacrifice they have devoted to the fulfillment of this academic work.

ii


ABSTRACT

Questions play an important part in communicative process in any
languages. People are not able to communicate well without making and
answering questions. In daily life, people make questions in order to seek
information as well as exchange their ideas, knowledge and feelings. In
reality, however, people sometimes make questions not for the above
mentioned purposes. They make questions for confirmating or checking
information. It is obvious that questions cannot be missed in
communication. Therefore, the study is aimed at characteristics of English
Tag questions with their equivalents in Vietnamese by using contrastive
analysis as the major method. In order to help learners get more
understanding of Tag questions and be able to use them correctly and
fluently, the study is mainly aimed at making a comparison of English Tag
questions with Vietnamese equivalents.

iii


LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

CN

Chủ ngữ

VN

Vị ngữ

&

and

S

Subject

ANK

Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy (ibooks)

BO

Beloved oxford – Dương Thụy

TS

The lost symbol – Dan Brown

IN

Inferno – Dan Brown

LA

Looking for Alaska – John Green

PT

Paper Town – John Green

AK

An abundance of Katherines – John Gree

AR

A walk to remember – Nicholas Sparks

DJ

Dear John - Nicholas Sparks

\

falling intonation

/

rising intonation

iv


LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES
Table 1: Four types of tag questions ……………………........11
Type

The statement

The tag

Example

1

Positive

Negative

It‘s your birthday, isn‘t it?

2

Negative

Positive

It isn‘t your birthday, is it?

3

Positive

Positive

It‘s your birthday, is it?

4

Negative

Negative

It isn‘t your birthday, isn‘t it?

Table 2: Form of tag questions ……………………….………12
Form

Structure
Statement

Tag

1

S + Operator + Predication,

Operator + S?

2

S +Ordinary verb + Predication,

Auxiliary verb + S?

3

An imperative clause,

Modal auxiliary + S?

v


DEFINITION OF KEY TECHNICAL TERMS

In this thisis, the key technical termsare to be employed in thesense as stated
in the example below:
(i) Semantics = Study of the relationship between language signs and
what is denoted by those signs.
(ii) Syntactics = Study of the relationship between language forms and
what is denoted by those forms.
(iii) Equivalents = Study of the relationship between English language
forms and what is denoted by Vietnamese forms.

vi


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Certificate of originality.......................................................................................... i
Acknowledgements ................................................................................................ii
Abstract ................................................................................................................ iii
List of abbreviations .............................................................................................iv
List of table and figures ......................................................................................... v
Definition of key technical terms .........................................................................vi
Chapter 1: INTRODUCTION ........................................................................... 1
1.1. Rationale for the research ............................................................................... 1
1.2. Aims of the research. ...................................................................................... 2
1.3. Objectives of the research ............................................................................... 3
1.4. Scope of the research ...................................................................................... 3
1.5. Significance of the research ............................................................................ 3
1.6. Structural organization of the thesis ............................................................... 3
Chapter 2: LITERATURE REVIEW................................................................ 5
2.1. Review of previous studies ............................................................................. 5
2.2. Review of theoretical background .................................................................... 7
2.2.1. Definition of tag questions. ........................................................................... 7
2.2.1.1. Definition of questions ................................................................................. 7
2.2.1.2. Definition of tag questions ........................................................................... 9
2.2.2. Syntactic features of tag questions ............................................................. 11
2.2.2.1. Syntactic features of tag questions in English ......................................... 11
2.2.2.2. Syntactic features of tag questions in Vietnamese .................................. 14
2.2.3. Semantic features of tag questions ............................................................ 21
2.2.3.1. Semantic features of tag questions in English ........................................ 21
2.2.3.2. Semantic features of tag questions in Vietnamese ................................. 28
2.3. Summary ....................................................................................................... 29

vii


Chapter 3: METHODOLOGY......................................................................... 31
3.1. Research-governing orientations .................................................................. 31
3.1.1. Research questions..................................................................................... 31
3.1.2. Research setting ......................................................................................... 31
3.1.3. Research approach ..................................................................................... 32
3.1.4. Principles/criteria for intended data collection & data analysis ................ 32
3.2. Research methods ......................................................................................... 32
3.2.1. Major methods vs. supporting methods ..................................................... 32
3.2.2. Data collection techniques ......................................................................... 34
3.2.3. Data analysis techniques ............................................................................ 34
3.3. Summary ....................................................................................................... 36
Chapter 4: FINDINGS AND DISCUSSIONS ................................................. 37
4.1. Contrastive analysis of syntactic and semantic features of tag question
in English with their Vietnamese equivalents ..................................................... 37
4.1.1. English:

S + Operator + Predication, Operator + S? .......................... 37

Vietnamese: CN + VN, có phải không?
Có phải + CN + VN + không?
Form 1: S + Operator (be) + Predication, Operator (be) + S? ............................. 40
Form 2: S + Operator (have) + Predication, Operator (have) + S? ..................... 43
Form 3: S + Operator (can/ will...) + Predication, Operator (can/ will...) + S? .. 44
4.1.2. English:

S + Ordinary verb + Predication, Auxiliary verb + S? ....... 45

Vietnamese: CN + VN, à/ ạ/ nhỉ/ đấy nhỉ/ ư/ đấy ư/ sao/ hả/ hở/
đúng không …?
Form 1: S + Ordinary verb + Predication, do + S? ............................................. 49
Form 2: S + Ordinary verb + Predication, don‘t + S? ......................................... 50
Form 3: S + Ordinary verb + Predication, does + S? .......................................... 51
Form 4: S + Ordinary verb + Predication, doesn‘t + S? ...................................... 52
Form 5: S + Ordinary verb + Predication, did + S? ............................................ 52
Form 6: S + Ordinary verb + Predication, didn‘t + S? ........................................ 53
viii


4.1.3. English:

Imperative statement, modal auxiliary? .............................. 54

Vietnamese: Chúng ta cùng………………..được không/ nhé?
Hãy……………………………………nhé?
Đừng/ Chớ có mà……………….…….nhé?
………………………...…..được không (ạ)?
Còn không…………………………..đi/ hả?
Có giỏi thì……………….……………….đi?
4.2. The similarities and differences of syntactic and semantic features of
tag questions in English and Vietnamese. ........................................................... 58
4.2.1. The similarities .......................................................................................... 58
4.2.2. The differences .......................................................................................... 60
4.3. Implications .................................................................................................. 61
4.4. Summary ....................................................................................................... 64
Chapter 5: CONCLUSION ............................................................................... 65
5.1. Recapitulation ............................................................................................... 65
5.2. Concluding remarks ...................................................................................... 67
5.3. Limitation of the research ............................................................................. 73
5.4. Recommendations/Suggestions for further research. ................................... 74
REFERENCE....................................................................................................... 75
APPENDICES ..................................................................................................... 78

ix



CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

1.1. Rationale of the research
Each nation has its own language. People naturally speak the language
spoken by their forefathers. However, English has had worldwide
recognition for ages and becomes the most popular language. Especially, in
open-door period and the trend towards internationalization, English has
become an essential tool in international communication and integration.
Therefore, the need for learning English is increasing not only in quantity
but also in quality.
Apart from learning practical English for daily communication, for future
jobs, for professional advancement, or for knowledge about England - its
people, customs and culture - learners study the theory of its language to get
a through insight into the language. Thanks to this language, we can belong
to the world as well as to our own country, and especially using tag question
is very important in everyday communication for the following reasons.
Firstly, questioning - answering, one of the most common communication
types, can appear with the high frequency in language communication.
Questioning and answering are issues of social-culture implied on them. In
communicative process in English as well as in other languages, questions
play an important role in our daily life. We are not able to keep
communicating going on well without making and answering questions.
We make questions in order to exchange our information, ideas, felling and
knowledge. Therefore, tag questions can also verify information in
communicating. Learning and understanding tag question let learners
translate English into Vietnamese more fluently.

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Secondly, tag questions play an important part in a language both in written
and spoken forms. They are an integral part of a language and they make the
language more beautiful and dynamic.
Thirdly, there have been quite a number of studies on questions in general;
such as Radolph Quick, Sydney Green bourn (1973, A university Grammar of
English), Vorothy Danielson, Patricia Porter, BebeccaHeyden (1990, Using
English) and by Vietnamese researchers such as Le Dong (True questions,
1996), Cao XuanHao (Prelimiraries to functional grammar in Vietnamese,
1991), Vo Dai Quang (True questions, 2000), Nguyen Dang Suu (English
questions contrastive to Vietnamese, 2002). We can be seen that many studies
have been conducted on English and Vietnamese questions in general, and tag
question is one of the question types.
Questions are analyzed in those studies mostly in term of semantic and
pragmatic factors. In fact, questions play the important role in both English and
Vietnamese. As a popular type of questions, tag questions are easy to be found
in both spoken and written form and it is impossible to carry out a
comprehensive study on them. So, the study is aimed at finding out the
features of tag questions in English with their Vietnamese equivalents interms
of syntactic and semantic features. We try to make a comparison of tag
questions between English and Vietnamese so as to find out the similarities
and differences between the two languages.
For the reasons above, the research entitled “A contrastive study of tag
questions in English with their Vietnamese equivalents” with the hope to
help learners to achieve proper comprehension and usage of tag questions.
1.2. Aims of the research
The study is aimed at finding out the features of tag questions in English
with their Vietnamese equivalents interms of syntactic and semantic features.
The author tries to make a comparison of tag questions between English and
Vietnamese so as to find out the similarities and differences between the two
2


languages. More importantly, the study hopes to provide Vietnamese
learners of English with a basic knowledge of the field and enables them to
deeply understand, use tag questions in daily life and apply them to teaching
and learning English effectively.
1.3. Objectives of the research
With a view to achieving the above - mentioned aims, some specific objectives have
been put forward as follows:
1. To find out the semantic and syntactic features of tag questions in English.
2. To find out the similarities and differences of tag questions in English and
Vietnamese.
3. To suggest some implications for teaching, learning tag questions
in English.
1.4. Scope of the research
Tag questions have become an interesting object of several recent studies in
various languages. Within the scope of this study, we wish to confine
ourselves to studying tag questions from some books in English in terms of
syntactic and semantic features. The similarities and differences will help
Vietnamese learners of English learn tag questions in an easier way and use
tag questions in daily communication effectively.
1.5. Significance of the research
(i) Theoretically, the study helps to find out the characteristics and carry out
contrastive analysis of tag questions in English with their Vietnamese
equivalents.
(ii) Practically, in this thesis, Tag question in English with their Vietnamese
equivalents are studied in order that the results of this study can be applied
to increase the efficiency of communication and can be of some help to the
teaching and learning Tag question in English.
1.6. Structural organization of the research
There are five chapters in this research paper.
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Chapter 1- Introduction- presents a general introduction to the studying
rationale, significance of the study, aims and objectives, the scope of the
study, research questions, and structural organization of the study.
Chapter 2- Literature Review and Theoretical Background- involves
some of previous studies. Also in this chapter, some definitions and
features of tag questions are clarified and mentioned.
Chapter 3- Methodology- includes the research design, the research
methodology, the description of the tag questions and sample, research
procedure including data collection and data analysis, instrument for
analysis and the reliability validity of the thesis. The study mainly uses the
contrastive analysis method to analyze syntactic and semantic features of
tag questions.
Chapter 4- Findings and Discussion- contrastive analysis is used to find
out the similarities and differences of tag questions in English with their
Vietnamese equivalents, gives some suggested implications of teaching
and learning tag questions in English.
Chapter 5- Conclusion- is concerned with summary of the thesis, a brief
statement of the findings, the limitation of the study and the
recommendation for further research.

4


CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW
This chapter provides some reviews of previous works related to the study,
dealing with theoretical framework of investigation such as concepts of tag
questions in the thesis, as well as the definitions and features of tag questions.
This research has presented a review of related previous studies on
grammatical structures and semantic features relating tag questions and bases
its syntactic and semantic analysis on the perspectives of Imad Al-Nabtiti,
william Bright, David Crystal, Randolph Quick in English and those of Le
Dong, Cao Xuan Hao, Diep Quang Ban, Vo Dai Quang and Nguyen Dang Suu
in Vietnamese.
In addition, this chapter also presents the definitions and characteristics of tag
questions in English with their Vietnamese equivalents. This chapter was
carefully mentioned as the foundation for analysis in chapter 4.
2.1.

Review of previous studies

Relevant previous studies to the current research are presented in this section.
The previous findings and discussions play as an evidence of contrastive
analysis of similarities and differences of English and Vietnamese tag
questions in terms of its form and meaning. There have been quite a number of
studies on questions in general. Following are only three of those which are
going to be introduced. Because, up to now there have been many descriptions
of questions by foreign grammarians such as Radolph Quick, Sydney Green
bourn (1973, A university Grammar of English), Vorothy Danielson, Patricia
Porter, BebeccaHeyden (1990, Using English) and by Vietnamese researchers
such as Le Dong (True questions, 1996), Cao XuanHao (Prelimiraries to
functional grammar in Vietnamese, 1991), Vo Dai Quang (True questions,
2000), Nguyen Dang Suu (English questions contrastive to Vietnamese, 2002).
Le Dong (1996) carried out a study on ―true questions‖ on the view of
semantic and pragmatics. The author provided some theoretical background
5


about questions and their common characteristics based on different aspects. In
the main part, the author focused on analysis of various types of questions in
which ―true questions‖ is paid due attention. Therefore, he found not only the
common features of each type of questions but also semantic-pragmatic factors
contributing to form unique characteristics of each question kind.
Vo Dai Quang (2000) conducted a study to compare and contrast ―true
questions‖ on the fields of semantics and pragmatics in English and
Vietnamese. In the study, the author used both English and Vietnamese as
source and target language in order to find out the similarities and differences
of semantic and pragmatic features of English and Vietnamese questions. He
implemented the study by proving theoretical background of semantically and
pragmatically contrastive analysis of true English and Vietnamese questions.
He also dealt with the contrast of different types of true questions as well as
pragmatic means which is often seen in those questions kinds.
Nguyen Dang Suu (2002) carried out a study of English questions in the
contrast with Vietnamese ones. In details, the author figured out the features of
questions in both English and Vietnamese to have a clear understanding about
ways to form a question and their equivalent meaning in the two languages.
Then, the author studied and compared the pragmatic – semantic structure to
find out the similarities and differences between questions in English and
Vietnamese language. He also conducted surveys to investigate the
understanding of Vietnamese students of questions the two languages, then
came to some conclusions about the student‘ mistakes and suggested solutions
in language teaching. Questions in some books are used as illustrated examples
and as the source to display the mistakes in question translation in English –
Vietnamese.
In conclusion, it can be seen that many studies have been conducted on
English and Vietnamese questions in general, and tag questions is one of the
question types. Questions are analyzed in those studies mostly in term of
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semantic and pragmatic factors. In fact, questions play the important role in
both English and Vietnamese. As a popular type of questions, tag questions are
easy to be found in both spoken and written form and it is impossible to carry
out a comprehensive study on them. So, the study is aimed at finding out
the features of tag questions in English with their Vietnamese equivalents
interms of syntactic and semantic features. The writer tries to make a
comparison of tag questions between English and Vietnamese so as to find
out the similarities and differences between the two languages. More
importantly, the study hopes to provide Vietnamese learners of English
with a basic knowledge of the field and enables them to deeply understand,
use tag questions in daily life and apply them to teaching and learning
English effectively.
2.2.

Review of theoretical background

2.2.1. Definition of tag questions
2.2.1.1. Definition of question
Question is a category used to classify sentences based on communicative
purpose. A question is a linguistic expression used to make a request for
information, or the request made using such an expression. Hoang Trong Phien
states in his book ―Vietnamese Grammar: sentence‖ that ―Question is a kind of
sentence used to classify sentences toward reality. A statement is of true
category; however, a question is of possible category‖ (Phien, 1980). Defined
in Oxford Dictionary, question is ―a sentence worded or expressed so as to
elicit information‖. In verbal communication, questions can play the roles as
communicative functions. Question, in both English and Vietnamese, is
initially ―used to ask‖ so as to help speakers get the unknown information that
they would like to know. Additionally, questions are occassionaly considered
as a greeting, suggestion, a negation or affirmation, etc.
In English, an interrogative sentence is a type of sentence which usually asks a
question and use a question mark. They may ask for information or for
7


confirmation or denial of a statement. They typically begin with a question
word such as what, who, how….or an auxiliary verb such as do/does, can or
could, etc.
Examples:
What is your name?
Does he get up at six o’clock?
She is a teacher, isn’t she?
According to Vietnamese linguist Le QuangThiem, a question is also to find
the information for what we have not known or not understood yet (p.222).
Examples:
Chị đang đọc sách gì vậy?
Bác sống ở đây bao lâu rồi?
However, sometimes, in both English and Vietnamese, people make questions
not for seeking information but just for greeting.
Example:
Hi! How are you?
Bà mới đi chợ về đấy à?
Or speakers can raise questions some of the time not for bove purposes but to
encourage the listener to think about what the obvious answer to the question
must be. For instance, when a speaker states:
“How much longer must our people endure this injustice?”
There is no formal answer expected. Rather, it is a divice used by the speaker
to assert or deny something.
In comparison with Vietnamese, speakers use this question without an answer
to criticize themselves or to express their feeling, their wishes of sympathizing
from others. Consider the following examples:
Tại sao lúc đó mình không giúp cô ấy nhỉ?
Có ai hiểu được lòng mình lúc này không?

8


There are many different points of view about classifying English as well as
Vietnamese questions. Based on the opinion of Bui Y and Bui Thanh Phuong
(as citied in Le, 2004, p.227), we have four types of questions:
-

General questions (Yes/No questions)

-

Special questions (Wh – questions)

-

Alternative questions

-

Tag questions.

2.2.1.2. Definition of Tag question
The term tag question is used to refer to a special kind of yes – no question
which consists of linguistic item (a question tag) attached to declarative,
exclamative or imperative clauses (Huddleston 1995:375) to express the
speaker‘s attitude towards the addressee or towards the situation spoken about.
Example: Those boys love food, don’t they?
This is an example of a tag question in which the first clause “those boys love
food” is the stem clause or the statement and the second clause “don’t they” is
calledtagor question tag.A tag question includes a statement and a question
(or tag, in other word). It can also be noted that tag questions always require
a comma ―,‖ before the tags.
Tag question belong to yes – no questions for two reasons. Firstly, the syntactic
feature of a question tag is similar to that of a yes- no question, that is, Finite
precedes Subject. Secondly, the response that the speaker would expect to a tag
question is either “yes” or “no”or the interlocutor can respond by means of an
utterance whose implicature communicate “yes” or “no”.
Example:
-

There are thirty-one day in November, aren’t there?

-

No, thirty.

-

You missed a lot, didn’t you?

-

Only the first lesson.
(Implicature: No – rejection)
9


According to Huddleston, based on the way the question defines the set of
answers and tag question is a special kind of question in English.
Example:
You skipped class last week, didn’t you?
Huddleston noted that interrogative clause added as a supplement to the
declarative clause is called the tag. The declarative clause is referred as an
anchor (Huddleston &Pullum, 2002, p.892). A special rule is that a negative
tag is attached to a positive anchor or positive tag is attached to a negative
anchor.
Examples:
She is beautiful, isn’t she?( Cô ấy đẹp, có đúng không?)
She isn’t beautiful, is she?( Cô ấy chẳng đẹp chút nào, phải
không?)
Tag questions can be used for imperatives or suggestions. After imperatives,
won’t

you

to

often

used

to

invite people

to

do

things,

and

will/would/can’/can’t/could you to tell or ask people to do things (Swan, 2000,
p.480). For examples:
Give me a hand, will you?( Hãy đưa tay cho tôi nào?)
Do sit down, won’t you?( Ngồi xuống đi nào?)
Open the door, won’t you?( Hãy mở cửa ra nhé?)
Let’s go to the cinema, shall we?(Chúng ta đi tới rạp chiếu phim
đi?)
Exclamative tags represent a third group of rather poorly studied tag. It
seems to be the case though that these are necessarily "positive exclamative
stem - negative tag" partterns with falling intonation on the tags.
The tag is raised or fell depending on the illocutionary force of the utterance.
The rising tag expresses doubted or asked for verification. Meanwhile, the
rising tag expresses acknowledgement that the anchor is true. (Huddleston &
Pullum, 2002, p.894). The falling tag expresses the listener‘s agreement.
10


2.2.2. Syntactic features of tag questions
2.2.2.1. Syntactic features of tag questions in English
Tag questions are short questions at the end of statements. As the examples
above illustrate, a tag question includes a statement and a question (or tag,
in other word). It can also be noted that tag questions always require a
comma ―,‖ before the tags. As a rule, in tag questions, the statements can be
positive or negative and the tags will be negative or vice versa. So, there are
four types of tag questions:

Type

The statement

The tag

Example

1

Positive

Negative

It‘s your birthday, isn‘t it?

2

Negative

Positive

It isn‘t your birthday, is it?

3

Positive

Positive

It‘s your birthday, is it?

4

Negative

Negative

It isn‘t your birthday, isn‘t it?

Table 1. Four kinds of tag questions.
Tag questions turn a statement into a question with declarative statement,
exclamativestatement and imperative statement. The statements are made
using an auxiliary verb (for example: be, have, will…) or an ordinary verb
and a subject pronoun (for example: I, He, She…) in form. The tags are at
the end of the tag questions with the structure as ―an auxiliary verb/ verb +
subject pronoun?‖ (for examples: is he? isn‘t she? can I? will you? Couldn‘t
you? Did they?...) a special structure, the statement is an imperative and the
tag is a future verb( for examples: win/ shall/ won‘t..) or modal auxiliaries
(for examples: can/ could/ would/ can‘t...).
In term of structure, this type of question has auxiliary verb, modal verb or
main verb ―to be‖, ―to have‖ which are put into the right form and tense and
converted to stand after subject in the statements; to stand before subject in
the tags. The auxiliary verb, modal verb or ―to be‖ here can be called
―operator‖. With convert word – order in the sentence, tag question in
11


English can be form with the formulas. The table below used to illustrate
forms of English tag questions.

Form

Structure
Statement

Tag

1

S + Operator + Predication,

Operator + S?

2

S +Ordinary verb + Predication,

Auxiliary verb + S?

3

An imperative clause,

Modal auxiliary + S?

Table 2. Form of tag questions.
English tags have been analyzed as expressing certain attitudes of the
speakers towards what is being said in the main clause. As McGregor
(1995:95) states, the effect of tagging a clause is to modalise it in some way.
The statement clause retains its mood, but with some qualification. Thus
tagged declaratives remain declaratives, tagged imperatives remains
imperatives and tagged exclamatives remain exclamatives.
i) Tag questions with declarative statements
Of these, the declarative is by far the most common (Angela Downing,
English Grammar: A University Course. Taylor & Francis, 2006).
Declarative tag questions are the best studied of all types of tags. In this
description, they are divided into four main types: reverse polarity tag
questions with final rising tone, reverse polarity tag questions with final
falling tone, constant, polarity tag questions and invariant tag questions.
Syntactically, reverse and constant polarity tag questions can be called
canonical tag questions.
Canonical tag questions
(1) A tag to a declarative stem consists of Finite and Subject in that order.
Finite is always realized by an operator.
(2) The operator is the same as the operator of the preceding stem.

12


When the stem clause contains no operator, the appropriate form of the
dummy operator ―Do‖ is used, as for question formation in general.
(3) The Subject in a question tag is a personal pronoun which is the same as
or ico-referential with the Subject of the statement clause, maintaining
concord with it in number, person and gender.
(4) The Polarity of a tag question can be classified into two types: reserve
polarity and constant polarity.
As far as reversed polarity is concerned, a negative tag follows a positive
statement and vice versa.
Examples:
It broke down, didn't it? (positive statement - negative tag)
It didn't break down, did it? (negative statement - positive tag)
For a constant polarity tag question, both the statement clause and the tag
are in positive form or them are in negative form.
Examples:
You met him this morning, did you?

(positive statement -

positive tag)
You didn't meet him this morning, didn't you? (negative
statement - negative tag)
Invariant tag questions
A positive or negative statement with a falling tone is followed by an
invariant tag with rising tone. Sometimes, the tags are accompanied by
falling intonation to indicate more insistence.
Examples:
They forgot to attend the lecture,/am I right?/
They didn't forget to attend the lecture,/am I right/
ii) Tag questions with imperative statements
The implicit subject of an imperative statement can be the second person
singular of plural ―you‖ or a third person like ―everybody‖, ―somebody‖.
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