Degree Name

Master of Arts - Research


School of English Literatures, Philosophy and Languages - Faculty of Arts


Recent technological developments have given rise to a form of communication via the Internet known as online chat. This medium of communication has resulted in a language revolution, at least in Hong Kong where people communicating via the internet have adopted a new variety of language. This new variety is based in English but includes a number of Cantonese and Chinese sentence final particles as well as aspects of the grammar of these languages.

It is believed that the use of this hybridised English and especially the Cantonese sentence final particles has a specific function within the context of computer mediated communication especially in online chat such as MSN and ICQ. Most previous research on the use of Cantonese sentence final particles has focussed on their meanings in spoken language (Kwok, 1984; Matthews & Yip, 1994; Luke, 1990; Li 2006; Law, 1990). However, even within this context, the function of these particles has not been subjected to a rigorous systemic functional interpretation and systemization.

This paper reports on a study which seeks to provide a systemic functional description and systematization of Cantonese final particles as used in English computer mediated communication (CMC), by definition a written medium. Since the Cantonese final particles have tended to be a feature of spoken rather than written language, this study illustrates an example of the evolution of language and of linguistic change in progress.

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