School of Liberal Arts
Mae Fah Luang University

ISSN: 2287-0903


Intonation of Northern Thai Utterance-final Particles

Chaiyathip Katsura


This study was conducted for the primary purpose of describing intonational characteristics of Northern Thai final particles.  The study was based on speech data collected from natural conversations in varied settings with 8 native speakers of Northern Thai aged between 45 and 70 who spent their childhood and most parts of their lives in Chiang Mai city area or its vicinity.  To obtain relevant speech data, the researcher engaged each speaker in having a conversation and recorded and transcribed utterances containing final particles.  The speech data were then analysed in terms of the meaning, function, and intonational modification of each final particle.  The main findings of this study are as follows.

Northern Thai final particles serve not only pragmatic purposes, but also as intonation units.  In this study, a total of 30 final particles were identified.  The particles can be divided according to their functions into 8 categories.  Almost all of these particles can undergo intonational modification.  The forms of intonation identified in this study are pitch heightening, pitch lowering, vowel lengthening, vowel shortening, and combinations of any of these forms of pitch change and vowel modification.  When a form of intonation was applied, the sense of an utterance would change to convey different attitudinal perceptions and pragmatic intents of the conversation participants, such as annoyance, impatience, surprise, request, persuasion, and command.  It is recommended that further studies be conducted on the relationship between intonation and other linguistic features of the language, for example, lexical words, function words, and other particles.


Northern Thai; intonation; utterance-final particle; pragmatic

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