Interactional Functions of Suoyi ‘So’ in Mandarin Conversation

  • Author / Creator
    Wang, Xiaoyun
  • An increasing number of studies of language and interaction have reported that causal
    conjunctions can be used to mark something other than causal connection in conversation
    (Bolden 2009; Walker, 2012). Suoyi ‘so’ is a causal conjunction indicating results and
    conclusions in Mandarin. Previous research has sketched its function as a discourse marker in
    discourse and turn organization based on the data of TV shows (Fang, 2000; Yao, 2009). Its
    interactional functions in naturalistic Mandarin conversation are largely undocumented. This
    study explores interactional functions of the conjunction suoyi ‘so’ in Mandarin conversation.

    Adopting the methodology of conversation analysis and interactional linguistics, this
    study examines the interactional functions of suoyi when it occurs at different sequential
    positions in Mandarin conversation. The data for this study are 12 hours of naturalistic Mandarin
    conversation. An examination of the data shows that suoyi can be used at turn-initial, mid-turn,
    and turn-final positions. Specifically, the turn-initial suoyis have three main interactional
    functions: 1) to link the subsequent talk to the immediate prior speaker’s talk and explicate the
    current speaker’s epistemic stance; 2) to preface a display of understanding; and 3) to continue a
    pre-prior talk or activity. The mid-turn suoyis perform two main functions: 1) to introduce a
    result or conclusion, and 2) to be used at the possible closure of a topic. The turn-final suoyis in
    the data perform the function of marking the possible completion of a turn. This study describes
    the undocumented usages of suoyi in Mandarin conversation and contributes to our
    understanding of the interactional functions of suoyi from a cross-linguistic perspective.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2018
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
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