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I was watching a Taiwanese's drama. In the beginning of the first scene the young women was laughing and saying 对不起嘛. I know that 对不起 mean sorry. I heard of 嘛 being used in 在干嘛. I am learning mandarin and I'm just wondering if it is only used in Taiwanese dialect. If not, does the meaning change?

  • web search of 对不起嘛 leads to e.g. 错了一定要说对不起嘛? which seems to agree with the meaning of 嘛 as explained in grammars and dictionaries: "实用现代汉语语法":"嘛"有时也写作"吗"。"嘛"用于陈述句末尾,表示说话者认为"理应如此"或有"显而易见"的语气,句末语调低降。例如:(1)小英,你为什么还不走?---我不愿意走嘛!(2)你们忙什么,等我一会儿嘛。(3)行行出状元嘛。(4)还愣着干什么?走嘛! confirmed by dictionaries, e.g. bkrs – user6065 Jan 11 '18 at 8:28
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The 嘛 here has actually no real meaning but just a modal particle.

In Chinese culture, there is a word 撒娇, which is not easy to find the direct translation in English. This happens mainly on girls, who would like to act like tender and sensitive to some intimate friends or partners. With 嘛 the young woman could transfer this additional meaning to others. If a boy act like this, he would be said girlish.

This is widely used not only in Taiwanese dialect, but also in other dialects from mainland.

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