A study on the structural and semantic features of tag questions with reference to vietnamese equivalents based on the bilingual play “ an ideal husband’

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MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING HANOI OPEN UNIVERSITY M.A Thesis A STUDY ON THE STRUCTURAL AND SEMANTIC FEATURES OF TAG QUESTIONS WITH REFERENCE TO VIETNAMESE EQUIVALENTS BASED ON THE BILINGUAL PLAY “AN IEAL HUSBAND” (ĐẶC ĐIỂM CẤU TRÚC VÀ NGỮ NGHĨA CỦA CÂU HỎI CĨ ĐI TRONG TIẾNG ANH VÀ NHỮNG TƯƠNG ĐƯƠNG TRONG TIẾNG VIỆT DỰA TRÊN TÁC PHẨM SONG NGỮ „MỘT NGƯỜI CHỒNG LÝ TƯỞNG‟) ĐÀO THỊ VÂN NGA Field: English Language Code: 8220201 Supervisor: Assoc Prof Dr.Phan Văn Quế Hanoi, 2018 CERTIFICATE OF ORIGINALITY I, the undersigned, herby certify my authority of the study project report entitle ―A study on the structural and semantic features of Tag – question with reference to Vietnamese equivalents based on the bilingual play ― an ideal husband‖ submitted in partial fufillment 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 acknowlwdgement in the text of the thesis Hanoi, 2018 Student’s Signature Đào Thị Vân Nga Approved by SUPERVISOR ( Signature and full name) Date: ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I am grateful to my family for their support, understanding, and love Without your sacrifices throughout these arduous years at Hanoi Open University, I would not have had the courage to accomplish this study Thank you so much The efforts, guidance, and support of my supervisor were immensely helpful and encouraging And Assoc Prof Dr Phan Văn Quế was tireless, brave, and thorough to help me I acknowledge the work and the lectures of lecturers at Hanoi Open University Through your constructive criticisms, excellent methodological reviews, and insistence on the rubric, these distinguished university members influenced the quality of this graduation thesis positively My appreciation goes to reviewers/inspectors for their excellent works on editing and ensuring that this work met the standard of Hanoi Open University ABSTRACT The features of tag questions have been one of the big concerns for learners of linguistics as well as the researchers especially translators who are interested in masterpieces such as ― An ideal husband‖ by Oscar Wilder it can be seen that many studies have been conducted in English and Vietnamese questions in general, ad tag question in particular Questions are analyzed in those studies mostly in term of semantic and pragmatic features These works have brought about an overview of tag question in English Generally, they presented linguistic features of tag questions- their structure and functions However, the number of comparative studies which investigate the similarities and differences in terms of tag questions between English and Vietnamese are limited As a result, the current study is carried out with the aim to compare and contrast tag question in English and Vietnamese equivalent expression in a translated version of a very famous novel “An ideal husband” by Oscar Wilder When finished, this research can serve as a contribution to bilingual studies especially ones related to language comparison or translation, thus leading to learners‘ proper comprehension and usage of tag questions TABLE OF CONTENT CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION 1.1 Rationale of the study Without a shadow of a doubt, communication is at the heart of our everyday lives The purpose of verbal communication is to establish and maintain our relationship with other people, to express our feeling, attitudes and judgments, and to understand what other people think Conversations also enable us to take role on asking and answering questions to achieve the communicational goals Tag questions - one of the most important English sentence patterns of speech- plays such a crucial role in English speakers‘ communications It mainly consists of declarative sentence plus tag question The declarative sentence is used to put forward a view of speaker, whilst the tag question indicates the necessity to identify the previously mentioned statement Learning and understanding tag question enable learners understand more about this special structure, thus enhancing language users‘ ability to translate tag questions into Vietnamese and vice versa Although tag questions represent multi-functionality and a diversity of meaning, throughout the almost ten-year process of working as an English teacher, I myself realize that the majority of students not obtain the relatively full understanding of the use and usefulness of this question type In addition, they also are not able to translate and use it properly, which results in inaccurate translation in certain situations Moreover, the comparative analysis of tag questions between English and Vietnamese is approximately limited All those above-mentioned reasons have created the motivation for me to carry out the current thesis on Tag questions in English and equivalents in Vietnamese I hope that this research can serve as a contribution to bilingual studies especially ones related to language comparison or translation, thus leading to learners‘ proper comprehension and usage of tag questions 1.2 Aims and objectives of the study The study is conducted to understand about the structural and semantic features of English tag questions, thus compare and contrast tag questions in English and Vietnamese equivalent expressions in a translated version of a very famous novel ―An ideal husband‖ by Oscar Wilder The findings of the study, to some extent, help the teachers and the learners have better ways to teach and learn English literature through understanding about English tag questions and the way to translate them into Vietnamese In order to achieve the aims, the study is expected to reach the following objectives:  Proving an exhaustive description of English tag questions and Vietnamese equivalents in terms of structures and meanings  Identifying the similarities and differences between tag questions in English and Vietnamese equivalent expressions in the Vietnamese translation version of The ideal husband by Oscar Wilder 1.3 Research methods The present study involves a descriptive, comparative and contrastive analysis of English tag questions and Vietnamese equivalent expressions English is the instrumental language employed in the thesis to identify the similarities and differences between tag questions between these two languages The study has been conducted using the following procedures:  Data collection A number of materials on mood, modality, and tag questions in English are investigated in order to build up a theoretical framework for the present thesis  Data analysis Using this theoretical framework as a solid base, a generalization and systematizations of the relationship between various forms and functions of English tag question is under investigation  Contrastive analysis On the basis of author‘s personal experience and knowledge, Vietnamese equivalent expressions in the translation work are determined using English as the instrumental language Similarities and differences between tag questions in English and Vietnamese equivalent expressions are subsequently identified 1.4 Research questions The objectives of the study can be elaborated into these research questions: i What are the structural and semantic features of English tag questions and their equivalents in Vietnamese? ii What is the usage of tag questions in the bilingual play ‗An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilder? 1.5 Scope of the study The main focus of the study is a contrastive analysis between English tag questions and their Vietnamese equivalent in the light of systemic functional grammar The study is conducted between the conceptual frameworks of interpersonal metafiction theory, analyzing compositional features in Vietnamese version of An ideal husband by Oscar Wilder Oscar Wilder began to write An Ideal Husband in the summer of 1893, he completed it later that winter At the time of when it was written, he was familiarized to success, and in writing this play he wanted to guarantee himself to stay in the public eye An ideal husband is one of the most serious social comedies that Oscar Wilde published; it contains bold political tinges, ironically and pessimistically looking at the current political background To make the most of comparison in terms of tag questions between two languages, a version of Vietnamese translation ‗Một người chồng lý tưởng’ by Hoang Nguyen published by World Publisher in 1998 was chosen for this study because it has been the only one version which can be found in Vietnam 51 I may come with you, Robert, 256 Để em với anh, anh Rô-bớt, anh đồng ý không? may I not? 4.5.3 Tag questions with exclamative stems Exclamative clauses are used when the speaker wishes to express certain degree of emotion, attitude or assessment or unusual mental state towards the entity shown in the proposition Exclamative can be realized by exclamatory particles like or phải không These particles often come in the final, post-adjectival position of the exclamatives They help speakers to seek agreement about his/her assessment from the addressee Wonderful man, wasn‘t he? 42 Ông người tuyệt diệu, phải không Ngài? 17 Quite beautiful, isn‘t it? 36 Wonderful woman, Lady Markby, 154 Macbai phu nhân isn‘t she? người đàn bà tuyệt diệu, phải 82 Đẹp nhỉ? không ạ? 4.6 Summary The present chapter has provided a description of the Vietnamese equivalent expressions to English tag questions with declarative, imperative and exclamative stems in terms of linguistic form, function and meaning However, it is generally accepted that complete equivalence of message, function and form between source text and target text is rare For this reason, more emphasis is placed on communicative features such as function, relevance, situation and culture than formal linguistic criteria in some cases when the text is translated from English into Vietnamese 54 CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSION 5.1 Recapitulation Using the framework of interpersonal structure of English clauses, the present study semantically analyzed grammatical constructions, functions and meanings of English tag questions and their Vietnamese equivalent expressions The main goal of the study has been to explore as many as possible the similarities and differences between tag questions in English and their equivalent expressions in Vietnamese; results of which are summarized below Subsequent pedagogical implications, on the basis of these findings and the practical analysis of students ‗errors, are also discussed, as well as possible directions for further research 5.2 Concluding remarks 5.2.1 Similarities between English tag questions and their Vietnamese equivalent expressions Both English and Vietnamese have a wide range of tags and similar basic structures of tag questions That is, the declarative, imperative or exclamative clause precedes the tag Declarative stem + Question tag You haven’t gone to the music room, have you? Ngài chưa tới phòng âm nhạc à? Imperative stem + question tag: Turn off the heater for me, will you? Tắt lò sưởi hộ tơi Exclamative + Tag: How excited you are, aren’t you? 55 Bà thích thú nhỉ? If syntactic and semantic features of both stem clause and tag are taken into consideration, however, only English invariant tag questions have direct equivalents in Vietnamese/ Functionally question tags in English are equivalent to modal particles in Vietnamese They are often used to seek negotiation on the discourse stratum This may be negotiation oriented to information exchange or to goods – and services exchange Question tags in English and modal particles in Vietnamese are tools to express the speaker‘s attitude towards the addressee or towards the situation spoken about They act as an indicator of the speaker‘s assumptions, intentions or emotions As far as reverse polarity tag questions with final rising tone are concerned, they lack the assertiveness of an outright claim They allow the speaker to avoid commitment and conflict with the addressee by giving the impression of not being certain Their equivalent expressions in Vietnamese are realized by polar interrogative particles ―… có phải khơng‖ or ―có phải… khơng‖ Reverse polarity tag questions with final falling tone can be used to indicate a speaker‘s strong commitment to the truth of her/his propositions Their Vietnamese equivalent expressions are realized by polar interrogative particles ―à/ ạ/ hả/ hở‖; When reverse polarity tag questions with final falling tone function as a coercive device, they are equivalent to Vietnamese yes-no question ending in: ―đúng không‖; If the tag of this type convey the speaker‘s antaonistic attitude, it has a similar effect on English interlocutor as the structure ―không thấy….à‖ or ―không biết … à‖ has on Vietnamese people English constant polarity tag questions can be used to express the speaker‘s interest, surprise, concern, anger The question tags of this type equate to modal particle ―ư‖/ ―sao‖ / ―mà … as in Vietnamese With respect to English tag questions with imperative stems, the force of a directive is 56 affected by the modal verb used in the tag The difference in modality could be said to mark the speaker;s attitude towards the realization of the request The question tag ―will you‖ after an imperative helps to mitigate an order It is equivalent to imperative particle ―nhé‖ in Vietnamese The tag ―can you‖ and ―could you‖ encode a lower degree of imposition on the addressee and give him/ her an option to deny future action They are equivalent to polar interrogative particles ―được không ― or ―được không ạ‖ in Vietnamese In case the tag ―would you‖ after an imperative is considered as a warning or threat when a child has done or appears to be intent on doing something s/he has been explictly instructed not to do, its equivalent expression in Vietnamese is ―Có giỏi thì… đi‖ The tag ―can’t you‖ after an imperative clause makes a directive more forceful or insistent and indicates the speaker‘s impatience when the addressee has not complied with the request It is equivalent to Vietnamese imperative particle ―còn khơng … hả‖ Tag questions with exclamatives are used to invite the hearer‘s agreement with the speaker‘s exclamatory statement Question tags of this type are equivalent to exclamatory particle ―thế nhỉ‖ in Vietnamese 5.2.2 Differences between English tag questions and their Vietnamese equivalent expressions Although English and Vietnamese share many similarities in tag questions, there exist some differences in terms of syntactic and semantic features Syntactically, the tags in English and Vietnamese differ in some way In English, the canonical tags are realized by the sequence of Finite + Subject, contrasting with the so called tags in Vietnamese which are realized by invariant linguistic items or modal particles This difference results from the fact that English and Vietnamese belong to 57 two different linguistic systems Vietnamese is an isolating language which has no inflectional and derivational morphology Vietnamese verbs therefore bear no features for finiteness or tense and a range of particles are used to serve exclusively grammatical functions In contrast, English is an inflecting language which uses derivation and inflection as functional primitives and as a signal of its grammatical relationships As a result, English tags consist of Finite and Subject in which Finite can indicate tense or modality Semantically, English question tags as well as Vietnamese modal particles on their own are untranslatable As a result, exact equivalents can hardly be found in the target language 5.2.3 Tag questions in the bilingual play „An Ideal Husband‟ by Oscar Wilder In the novel, there are total 37 tag questions with positive stems ―Phải không‖ or ―có phải khơng‖ which means ―is this right or not‖ becomes the most popular way of translating tag questions with 21 sentences These particles are used as a question marker to denote the speaker‘s uncertainty about the truth of the proposition In other words, the speaker presumes the preposition to be correct but is uncertain about it and requests the addressee to indicate whether it is true or not There are yes-no questions realized by polar interrogative particles ―chứ‖ The particle ―chứ‖ can be used after a statement to turn it in a question When a question ends with this word, the speaker presumes the proposition to be correct and expects the addressee‘s confirmation There is tag question with imperative stem Polar interrogative đồng ý không? can be used after an imperative to ask for something or to ask the addressee‘s permission to something Finally, three tag questions with exlamative stems are realized by exclamatory particles like or phải không They help speakers to seek agreement about his/her assessment from the addressee The two sentences with negative stems noticeably are converted into declarative 58 sentences whist one tag question is converted into a statement in the translated version However, in this context, it does not change the original idea significantly, which makes it acceptable 5.3 Suggestions for further research This study has been an attempt to find out the Vietnamese equivalent expressions to English tag questions A further study, if possible, should deal with the effect of age, gender, power and distance on frequency of use of English tag questions 59 REFERENCES In English: Achiba, M.(2002), Second Language Acquisition, 2: Learning to Request in a Second Language: A Study of Chiild Interlanguage Pragmatics, Multilingual Matters Limited, Northern Ireland Aijmer, K.(2002), English Discourse Particles Evidence from a corpus, John benjamins Publishing Company, USA Alexander, L.G (1992), Longman English Grammar, Longman, UK Andersen, G(2001), Pragmatic Markers and Sociolinguistic variation – arelevance theoretic approach to the language of adolescents, John Benjamin Publishing Company, USA Antagonistic tag questions in BE, 2006, viewed 15 July 2006,
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