The pragmatic functions of the final particle 'eh' and of high rising terminals in Canadian English: Quite similar, eh!

Author(s): Clara Rodrigues Da Mota and Sophie Herment


The starting point of the present analysis is the recurrent use of eh in spoken Canadian English. We based our study on oral data from two different sources: recordings of spontaneous conversations by Canadian speakers and two DVDs of humorous shows. The analysis of the corpus attracted our attention on another widely spread phenomenon in Canadian English: the use of high rising terminals (HRTs). The present paper shows that it proves relevant to link the use of the final particle eh when used as a discourse marker and HRT. We based our observations on qualitative analyses of talk-in-interaction. The purpose of this research is an attempt to account for the use of eh and HRT by focusing on different pragmatic aspects allowing us to understand and define them better. The extensive analysis of both features of Canadian English reveals that their function is truly comparable and shows that HRT, which is an intonation contour, can play the role of a final particle. Or is it the opposite?