Modal particles: тийм ээ? / тээ?
18 December 2016
This is part of a series on Modal particles based on textbooks and grammar references that I have to hand.
One very common modal particle in Mongolian conversational speech is тийм ээ? / тээ? This particle is covered only by Bayarmaa's Mongolian Language for Beginners and completely ignored in other sources that I have.
1. Mongolian Language for Beginners
Before quoting Bayarmaa, I will make a couple of preliminary observations from my own understanding:
- The particle is accompanied by rising intonation.
- While this particle, like биз дээ and others, is a tag question seeking confirmation from the listener, it shows a high degree of confidence on the part of the speaker that his or her assumption is correct. Essentially, the speaker already knows the answer. That is, both the speaker and the listener are assumed to possess the same knowledge.
- The action of seeking confirmation is therefore not necessarily related to a desire to confirm that the information is correct. Тээ? could be used in order to initiate a topic, and could lead to a request, observation, or chain of deductions.
- Тээ? can follow other modal particles, including шүү дээ (штээ).
1. Bayarmaa Khalzaa (Mongolian Language for Beginners) 2012
Bayarmaa's explanation is confined to equating тийм ээ? / тээ? to English 'right?'
Тийм ээ? --> т(ийм) ээ? --> [тээ?] (right?)
- The explanation relies heavily on intuitions about the usage of English 'right?', but it is the only guide to the meaning and usage of тийм ээ? and тээ? I have seen anywhere.