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A phonetic and multimodal exploration of the BA construction of the Chinese imperative


  • Guohua Hu

Summary, in English

Previous studies of the Chinese imperative have treated syntax and prosody separately, have not considered gestures, and have looked at sentences in isolation and not in discourse. This study therefore investigated how the relationship between grammatical components, intonation (perceived stress), and gesture are co-organized and interact in the 把 bǎ ‘Ba’ construction (i.e., BA) of Chinese imperatives, specifically in natural spontaneous Chinese discourse in a face-to-face task-driven dyadic activity. The results reveal that the verb phrase (VP) bears the perceived sentence stress of BA and gestural strokes also mostly align with the VP. These results suggest that there is, in fact, an interaction between the three modalities: syntax, prosody, and gesture. Future studies might investigate other gestural articulators, for example head movements, and BA outside of the imperative.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)


  • Languages and Literatures


  • Chinese imperative
  • 把 bǎ ‘Ba’ construction
  • syntax
  • prosody
  • gesture
  • multimodality


  • Marianne Gullberg (Professor)
  • Mechtild Tronnier