'She kows more about Hong Kong than you do isn't it': Tags in Hong Kong conversational English

Wai Lin Leung, Martin John Warren

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports on a corpus-based intercultural communication study comparing the syntactic form and pragmatic use of tags by non-native speakers (Hong Kong Chinese) and native speakers of English. It outlines the main findings and seeks to explain where, when, and why tags are used by the two groups of speakers in their conversations. The study shows that when compared with their native speaker interlocutors, the non-native speakers use tag questions much less frequently, but use tag words twice as often. The two groups of speakers also use tags differently to express pragmatic meaning. The non-native speakers display a preference for using invariant tag forms and use tags mostly for seeking confirmation from the hearer. The tags used by native speakers of English are more evenly spread across a number of pragmatic functions: asking for information, seeking confirmation and emphasizing what is being said. Tentative explanations are offered to account for the findings presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1419-1439
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2001


  • Corpus-based study
  • Intercultural communication
  • Intercultural pragmatics
  • Tag questions
  • Tag words
  • Tags

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence

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