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Minimal Response Token en in Mandarin Conversation Open Access


Other title
Minimal response token en
Interactional functions
Conversation analysis
Interactional linguistics
Mandarin conversation
Multimodal analysis
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Oralova, Gaisha
Supervisor and department
Li, Xiaoting (East Asian Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Ono, Tsuyoshi (East Asian Studies)
Järvikivi, Juhani (Department of Linguistics)
Department of East Asian Studies
East Asian Interdisciplinary Studies
Date accepted
Graduation date
2016-06:Fall 2016
Master of Arts
Degree level
This thesis focuses on one of the most frequently used response tokens in Mandarin - en “mm”. Through examining 6 hours of everyday spontaneous Mandarin conversation, this paper explores the interactional functions of the response token en in different sequential and situational environments, as well as its prosodic and visual features. The analysis shows that en has several uses in current conversational data. When placed in the middle of an extended turn, en can serve as a continuer. When it appears in the end of an extended turn, en functions as an acknowledgement token. En may be a confirmation token when it confirms a previous turn’s assertion or claim. It can also register the receipt of the listener's responses at sequence-closing third positions. In addition, this study describes the prosodic features of en and the body movements concurrent with the production of en. This thesis hopes to shed some light on the usage of the minimal response token en in Mandarin conversation, as well as on response tokens at large. Many learners of Mandarin find it difficult to distinguish different usages of Mandarin response token en in conversation. Therefore, this study on the minimal response token en also has implications to Chinese language teaching and learning.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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