Exclamations in English and Vietnamese A Contrastive Analysis

This study is aimed to answer the questions such as: whether the culture background in Vietnam and Britain has an impact on the ways people exclaim, whether the features of syntax, of semantics and of pragmatics in exclamations of the two language are the same Concerning the scope of this study, exclamations in the two languages are considered in terms of syntax, of semantics and of pragmatics. It is necessary to narrow the scope of this writing like that: the exclamations of the two languages in written forms are mainly based on, but not in the oral ones. Therefore, when studying the intonation of exclamations, the focus is on the clues of exclamation marks (!) which appear at the end of exclamations.

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- - 1     I. Rationale Man is a mixture of social relations, his mental life is really many-sided, and the levels of emotion tones are abundant, too. The fundamental tones of emotions can be ranked according to the following three categories: (+) Positive: interest, joy. (−) Negative: sadness, anger, contempt, fear, shyness and guilt. (∅) Neutral: surprise (since speaker’s surprise maybe negative or positive) In daily conversations, expressions showing the speaker’s feelings in these cases have mono- function (i.e. expressing what the speaker feels) but in other ones they function differently. They do not only cover the earlier mentioned functions but they also reveal what the speaker really means and would like through their exclamations. This desire of researching on functions of exclamations will be fueled most effectively. Through exclamations, the speaker’s feelings are expressed effectively. In Vietnamese settings, one of the four types of sentences is exclamations and that type recieves little attention from learners and thus, there have not been many studies on exclamations. So far, the research of interrogatives, of imperatives and of the like have dominated, studying exclamations becomes our interest then.  (1997) with his thesis entitled “Hành ng Ngôn ng biu l trong câu cm thán ca ting Vit hin  i” set the first stage of exclamation studies. What he was interested in is the expressives in Vietnamese exclamations. Later on, in the thesis of “                (2001), the consideration of Vietnamese exclamations is taken into seriously. But actually, this thesis deals with the scope of a study of conversation interactions. She focused on the exclamative function of each move in each conversation without paying much attention to illocutionary force of exclaiming though it is an illocutionary act in speech acts. Moving on to the research of exclamations in English, most of them are done under the considerations of syntax and the one of semantics. Especially, Porrtner P. & Zanuttini (2005) have developed a series of research studying the semantic features of exclamations such as: “Exclamative Clauses: At the Syntax-Semantics Interface”, “The Semantics of Nominal - - 2 Exclamatives” or “Clause typing: From Syntax to Discourse Semantics-Exclamatives”. In terms of pragmatics, there is only the research of Beijer F. (2001) entitled “Syntax and Pragmatics of Exclamations and other Expressive/Emotional Utterances”. All the above research shows that the writers have completed their work with most enthusiasm and they have set a very good foundation to a better step_making research of exclamations under three dimensions: syntax, semantics and pragmatics. Knowing that language as a mirror of culture and ‘national character’, and that language is the address of culture. Using Vietnamese, English or any other languages, people have thoughts and emotion in common. They have also the same tones of emotion such as: anger, joy, happiness, surprise, fear, disgust, despeakerair … However, the ways of expressing it out are different. One can use gestures to show their attitude or feelings while the others may use facial expressions but the most common and important means is language. Through utterances, people express their shock, surprise, fear, anger, admiration … and these utterances are called exclamations. Studying functions of exclamations in terms of linguistic dimension in general and in English as well as Vietnamese in particular to find out equivalents and differences leads to the topic: “Exclamations in English and Vietnamese_A Contrastive Analysis”. II. Aims and scope of the study This study is aimed to answer the questions such as: whether the culture background in Vietnam and Britain has an impact on the ways people exclaim, whether the features of syntax, of semantics and of pragmatics in exclamations of the two language are the same… Concerning the scope of this study, exclamations in the two languages are considered in terms of syntax, of semantics and of pragmatics. It is necessary to narrow the scope of this writing like that: the exclamations of the two languages in written forms are mainly based on, but not in the oral ones. Therefore, when studying the intonation of exclamations, the focus is on the clues of exclamation marks (!) which appear at the end of exclamations. III. Methods of the study In order to have the theoretical background knowledge for this topic, some typical methods are used: - - 3 - Induction: data collected from sources: literature review of the subject, theoretical background and survey’s results. - Descriptive: used to describe the particular mistakes when people exclaim and the features of syntax and pragmatics of exclamations in English and Vietnamese. - Contrastive analysis: this method is applied to point out the differences and similarities in the ways people from different culture background exclaim. - Questionnaire: this is used to collect the reliable data from non–native language learners and study the habits in using exclamations of Vietnamese students. IV. Research Questions 1. Under the same feelings of anger, joy, disgust, surprise, fear… do English and Vietnamese express their emotion in the same ways? 2. Are there any similarities and differences in the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic features of exclamations in English and Vietnamese? 3. Do the differences of culture background have an impact on the ways people exclaim? 4. Which kinds of English exclamations are Vietnamese students interested in ? V. Design of the study Part A: Introduction The introduction presents the rationale of the study, the scope, the method and the design of the study. Part B: Development Chapter 1: An overview of exclamations The literature on exclamations is reviewed including the literature on sentence type and on illocutionary force of exclamation devices. Chapter 2: Exclamations under the syntactic consideration This chapter investigates the syntactic feature of exclamation. It is concerned to examine classifications and the main forms of exclamations in the two languages. - - 4 Chapter 3: Exclamations under the semantic consideration The criteria and the semantic meanings of exclamations are explored in English and in Vietnamese respectively. Chapter 4: Exclamations under the pragmatic consideration This chapter deals with the pragmatic features of exclamations as well as the roles of exclaiming in different situations for the pragmatic use. Chapter 5: Survey’s results and suggested solutions Based on the questionnaires, the information of the habit of using exclamations of Vietnamese students are presented clearly and provide some suggestions on language teaching process, especially teaching how to form exclamations in English for the Vietnamese. Part C: Conclusion This part summarizes the features of exclamations under the considerations of syntax, of semantics and of pragmatics. And the survey’s results are made concise in this part, too. - - 5    Chapter 1: An overview of exclamations In this chapter, the research on the background of sentence in general and on exclamation in particular is done. A brief review of the latter will be studied on, too. 1.1 Literature review of sentences Alexandra Grammatical School (300 – 200 BC) has considered that sentences are the combination of words to express complete thoughts. Sentences are the largest unit of grammatical organization within parts of speech (e.g. noun, verb, adjective…) are said to function . From the above definitions, the following are some main features of sentences: - the largest unit of grammatical organization - the basic unit of written English language communication - constructed by grammatical rules - express a thought and the speaker’s feelings and attitude. 1.2 Sentence classifications in English and Vietnamese In English and Vietnamese, most of the grammaticians share similar classifications of sentence in terms of structures and of purposes. 1.2.1 In terms of structure In terms of structure, sentences are divided into three categories: + Simple, compound and complex (1) She is a good teacher. (Simple sentence) (2) I bought her some flowers, but she did not like them. (Compound sentence) (3) The film that interested me was about a petition. (Complex sentence) + Complete and incomplete (4) I’m glad to see you. (Complete sentence) (5) Glad to see you. (Incomplete sentence) - - 6 + Major and minor (6) Hands up! (Minor sentence) (7) We like to parties. (Major sentence) 1.2.2 In terms of purposes Sentences may be classified in terms of purposes: A declarative sentence is used to make a statement. An interrogative sentence is used to pose a question. An imperative sentence is used to give a command or to implore or entreat. An exclamatory sentence is used to express astonishment or extreme emotion. (8) How happy we were when the dawn came and our flag was still there! (9) How did you do your hair! (exclamation formed as a question) (10) I just won 500 dollars! (exclamation formed as a declarative sentence) The same classifications of sentence are found in the sentence theory of Quirk et al (54: 6), sentences may be divided into four major clauses, whose use correlates with different communicative functions: statements, questions, commands and exclamations. (11) We’ve got a new motor. (statement) (12) Have you got a new motor? (question) (13) Buy us a new motor. (command) (14) We’ve got a new motor! (exclamation) 1.3 Minor types of simple sentences Most grammarians have chosen to describe exclamatives as either one of the major clause types on par with declaratives, interrogatives, and imperatives, or as a minor clause type. This is not surprising since utterances lacking inversion, beginning with “what” and “how” do not function in the same way as ordinary declaratives or interrogatives. We know, however, that declarative clauses, for instance, can be used to fulfill many different functions in natural languages, i.e. there is no one–to–one relation between language form and language function. Consequently, exclamations need not be of a clause type, but may instead be a pragmatic phenomenon, a claim comes from the fact that those who consider exclamations to be of a sentence type (e.g. Quirk et al. 1972, 1985) have to introduce minor sentence types having the same exclamatory function as the sentences they call exclamations. - - 7 Quirk et al. (1972) recognize four major classes in which simple sentences may be divided, and the division seems to have been made on the basis of (syntactic) form and (pragmatic) function: (i) Statements: sentences in which the subject is always present and generally precedes the verbs such as “Kama will come here today” (ii) Questions: sentences marked by one of the following criteria: a. The placing of the operator in front of the subject, as in “ Will Kama come here today?” b. The initial positioning of a wh – element as in “When will Kama come here?” c. Rising question intonation as in “Kama will come here today?” (iii) Commands: sentences which normally have no overt grammatical subject and whose verbs are in the imperative mood, e.g. “Come here today!” (iv) Exclamations: sentences that have an initial phrase introduced by “what” or “how” without inversion of subject and operator, e.g. “What nice clothes she wears!” 1.4 Definitions of terminologies One of the most important steps is to take all the definitions of terminologies concerning exclamations into a consideration. Most of them are listed as follows: Exclamations: They are sentences that express strong feelings (for example how you feel when you are happy, angry or surprise…). They begin with a capital letter and end with an exclamation mark (!) Exclamatives: Radford (1997:506) has defined an exclamative as a “a type of sentence used to exclaim surprise, delight, annoyance etc.” Expressive: in Searle’s speech acts, they principally express social interactions with the hearer Emotive: they are directly emotive utterances lending some features from expressives Interjections: they are exclamations used to express emotion in a natural, uninhibited way, and are not part of speech in the same sense as the words we have discussed; that is, entering into the structure of a sentence. Emotional / Expressive utterances: they are utterances in which the speaker in question is emotionally involved, and in which this involvement is linguistically expressed by means of intonation or by the use of performative expressions. - - 8 1.5 Exclamations With regards to the source of the word “ to exclaim”, it comes from the Latin word “exclamare”, which in its turn, and is the combination of “ex” and “clamare”. “Ex” means “ out of, from” and “clamare” means “to cry out”. Therefore, an exclamatory sentence is a statement of a complete thought or a way of thinking that show a great and usually sudden emotion of some kind. More clearly, David Crystal (49: 23), exclamations are sentences, which show that a person has been impressed or roused by something. For example, visiting someone’s house for the first time, the admiration or interest are expressed with the following utterances: (15) - What a beautiful house you have! (16) - It is such a nice house! (17) - Your house is so nice! (18) - Nice house! (19) - How nice a house! (20) - Isn’t the house nice! (21) - So nice a house! All the above sentences are exclamations because they convey strong feelings of speakers towards something. And here, it is a nice house. 1.6 Exclamations with illocutionary force indicating devices Exclamation in written form is mainly discovered and studied in this study and due to this written form, the interlocutors can get many useful hints when communicating. These hints are IFIDs ( Illocutionary force indicating devices), and as suggested by the term, they are the ones that transfer illocutionary force to both the speaker and the hearer. Based on these tokens, IFIDs help interlocutors to the appropriate strategy for everyday conversations. 1.6.1 Basic structures: “How + Adjective!” and “What + a/ an + Adjective + Noun!” Once mentioning hints of exclamations, “How” and “What” are regarded as master keys to learn their derived forms such as: “How + adjective + S + verb!” as in “How tall she is!” “How + adjective!” as in “How generous!” “What + a/an + N!” as in “What a nuisance!” “What + noun!” as in “What luck!” - - 9 “How” and “What” are known as the basic components of exclamations. Positioning right at the beginning, their function is to monitor the remaining components in sentences. It is the structures of “how” and “what” that are the basic hints to know its sentence type. These wh– elements have an utmost significant role so communicators make best use of these hints in their interactions. 1.6.2 Interjections Interjection is a big name for a little word. In other words, interjections are short exclamations like “Oh!”, “Um!” or “Yeah!”… When interjections are inserted into sentences, they have no grammatical connection to the sentences. They often express emotions in a natural, uninhibited way and they are more recognizable in their written forms as they tend to be accompanied by exclamation marks(!). It is noteworthy that almost any words may be used as an exclamation, but they still retain their identity as noun, pronoun, verb… (21) - Books! Lighthouses built on the sea of time. (noun) (22) - Halt! The dust brown ranks stood fast. (verb) (23) - Up! For same! (adverb) (24) - Impossible! It cannot be. (adjective) Next, we will study the interjections in detail through the following table: Interjection Meaning Example Expressing pleasure “Ah! That feels good” Expressing realization “Ah! Now I understand” Expressing resignation “Ah, well, it can’t be helped” Ah Expressing surprise “Ah! I’ve won!” Alas Expressing grief or pity “Alas! She’s dead now” Expressing pity “Oh dear! Does it hurt?” Dear Expressing surprise “Dear me! That’s a surprise” Eh Expressing surprise “Eh! Really!” Expressing greeting “Hello Khanh! How are you today?” Hello Expressing surprise “Hello! My car’s gone!” Hey Calling attention “Hey! Look at that!” - - 10 Expressing surprise, joy… “Hey! What a good idea!” Hi Expressing greeting “Hi! What’s up!” Hmm Expressing doubt, hesitation or disagreement “Hmm, I’m not sure” Expressing surprise “Oh, you are here!” Expressing pain “oh, I’ve got a headache!” Oh Expressing pleading “Oh, please say ‘yes’!” Ouch Expressing pain “Ouch! That hurts!” Uh Expressing hesitation “Uh…I don’t know the answer to that” Expressing surprise “Well I never!” Well Introducing a remark “Well! What did he say?” Table 1: Types of interjections (49: 23) 1.6.3 Intonation Intonation is one of the factors that make great contributions to create exclamations in both English and Vietnamese. Compared with statements, melodic contour of exclamations is not greatly different. The differences stay in words that carry the lexical meaning in which people show their emotion or feelings… (25) - That’s so funny! (26) - What a beautiful day! As far as exclamations concerned, depending on the falling tone or rising one, one can read the speaker’s mind (whether he means well or not) and his emotion (whether he is happy or disappointed with something). The following utterance is an example to discover levels of emotion according to layers of tones: You home!   If the speaker uses a falling tone, it shows that the speaker’s friendly attitude and we know he means a goodbye in saying that.  If the speaker uses a rising tone, there can be two ways to understand this utterance. It might be a question to ensure the addressee’s leave and it might also show the speaker’s upset and he makes no bone to ask the addressee to leave immediately. - - 11 1.6.4 Exclamation mark (!) If intonation is a signal of exclamations in spoken language, in written one it is an exclamation mark (!). Exclamation mark is one kind of punctuations, which helps writers express their intention exactly and logically. (27) - She is so tall! (28) - How much I love Khathy! However abundant forms of exclamations are, they convey one force, that is exclamatory force. (29) - We are the champions! (as declarative sentence) (30) - How do you risk? (as interrogative sentence) 1.7 Summary In this part, it is significant to discover that the most common thing shared by the two languages is that: when classifying sentence types, the criteria of purpose and of structure are on focus, thus there are no differences of sentence subtypes between English and Vietnamese, the detailed subtypes are complete or incomplete, major or non-major, simple, complex or compound (ranking of structure) and statements, questions, commands or exclamations (ranking of purpose). Then exclamations are studied in detail. In terms of exclamations, different scholars have different opinions, however the most prominent one is cited from David Crystal’s work (49: 20). According to this scholar, exclamations are sentences, which show that a person’s feeling has been impressed or roused by something. Thanks to researching in detail on exclamations’ definition, we are really enlightened by
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