The question-response system in Mandarin conversation
This article provides an overview of the question-response system in Mandarin Chinese from a conversation analytic perspective. Based on 403 question-response sequences from natural conversations, this study discusses the grammatical coding of Mandarin questions, social actions accomplished by questions, and formats of responses. It documents three grammatical types of questions, that is, polar questions (including sub-types), Q-word questions, and alternative questions. These questions are shown to perform a range of social actions, confirmation request being the most frequent. Also, this article reveals that the preferred format for confirming polar answers is interjection, while that for disconfirming polar answers is repetition. It provides a starting point for future studies on Mandarin questions and responses as well as a reference point for further crosslinguistic comparison.
Keywords: question, response, Mandarin, conversation analysis, social action, polar answer, interjection, repetition
Published online: 14 June 2021
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