The Comparison of the Cantonese Sentence Final Particles bo (?) and wo (?): From the 1940s to the 1970s

Wai-Mun Leung


In the past decades, researchers of Cantonese treated the frequently used sentence-final particles (hereafter SFPs) wo3 (?, mid level tone) and bo3 (?, mid level tone) as variant forms, the former being the result of sound change from the latter (Kwok 1984, Luke 1990, Li 1995, Fang 2003). However, Leung (2010) argues that wo3 in the late 20th century performs the functions of realization, reminder, hearsay and contrast while the main function of bo3 is only to show contrast, thus they are not entirely interchangeable. To explore the development of the two particles from the historical prospective, this paper attempts to examine them in Hong Kong Cantonese diachronically based on the spoken data of old Cantonese movies of 1940s and 1970s.

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Asian Culture and History   ISSN 1916-9655(Print)   ISSN 1916-9663 (Online)   Email:

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