Publication details [#66621]

Zhang, Grace. 2019. The pragmatic use of ‘sort of’ in TV forums. A Chinese perspective. Journal of Asian Pacific Communication 29 (1) : 62–85.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


This study discusses the pragmatic functions of four Chinese equivalents of the English ‘sort of’ based on a Chinese TV forum corpus: youdian (??), yidian (??), youyidian (???), keyishuo (???). It finds that the Chinese ‘sort of’ tends to cluster with verbs or adjectives rather than nouns. ‘Sort of’ is infrequent in the formal setting of this study and serves three pragmatic functions: mitigation, approximation and evasion, with the first two functions being much more frequent than the last one. ‘Sort of’ performs more of an interpersonal than an informational function. This study highlights the elasticity of ‘sort of’ in Mandarin Chinese in the form of fluidity, stretchability and strategy, contributing a fresh account of pragmatic markers. This study implies that elastic language use is a natural part of linguistic competence (particularly pragmatic competence) and forms a strong bond with effective linguistic communication.