“Write oneself into being”– Ha as an interpersonal pragmatic marker on WeChat

Xiaoyi Bi, Liz Marsden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The pragmatic marker ha in Mandarin, has little meaning in itself; while some studies have looked into its usage in spoken discourse, we seek to address its usage and unpack its specific interpersonal pragmatic function in online, private, dyadic discourse, itself an underexplored area, and a setting in which participants are free from public scrutiny, unlike on mass social media. The results demonstrate that it can be attached to clauses and sentences to show the affect of the writer, from indicating a jocular and playful tone to softening a request. Therefore, ha is used as a way to express different types of rapport orientations and positive self-presentation. By drawing on personal WeChat messages, this paper bridges the gap by focusing on ha in technologically-mediated conversation. The expanding usage of ha also suggests a wish to create linguistic forms which can act as substitutes for non-verbal communication features.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Politeness Research
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sept 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • rapport management
  • Identity construction
  • private digital space
  • self-representation


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