Discretion: The final particle ou and its functions in medical advice-giving

Ying Jin, Dennis Tay

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper explores the functions of Chinese final particle ou in both TCU-final and non-TCU-final positions in medical advice-giving. Using Praat, we differentiated phonologically marked and unmarked ou and analyzed their functions in both doctor and patient speech. The findings suggest a difference in participants’ use of ou: while non-TCU-final ou occurs mainly in the patient speech to mark newsworthiness and call for the doctor’s attention, TCU-final ou occurs in both the doctor and the patient speech serving various functions. Most importantly, the paper provides a new understanding of the various functions of ou as interconnected to each other under its intrinsic discreet quality that facilitates relationship building in the selected conversational activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-180
Number of pages23
JournalChinese Language and Discourse
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2021


  • Conversation analysis
  • Discretion
  • Interpersonal pragmatics
  • Ou

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Linguistics and Language


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