Chapter published in:The ‘Noun Phrase’ across Languages: An emergent unit in interaction
Edited by Tsuyoshi Ono and Sandra A. Thompson
[Typological Studies in Language 128] 2020
► pp. 272–314
NP clustering in Mandarin conversational interaction
Noun phrases (NPs) have traditionally been analyzed as a phrasal level unit with hierarchical internal structures as well as syntactic roles in larger syntactic units. In this chapter, I examine NP-related patterns at the discourse level. Using Mandarin conversation data, this chapter focuses on multiple NPs that cluster as adjacent turn constructional units. The patterns identified include: (1) deictic forms supported by gestures for mutual gaze and joint attention; (2) repeated (first person singular) pronouns for mitigation of conflicting stance and self-distancing; (3) diverse NP forms for step-wise reference identification or elaboration; (4) joint production of multiple NPs to display shared stance or mutual orientation; and (5) lists of multiple items for persuasion, exemplification, and clarification as well as for affiliative stance or mutual orientation. As these patterns go beyond the realm of clausal level syntax with demonstrable interactional effects, they are taken to show that there is discourse-level grammar, or grammar-in-interaction, to be accounted for when syntactic notions such as NPs are examined in context, and interactional discourse-based constructions, though non-conventional at times, raise important questions about the shape, formation, and dynamic nature of interaction and grammar.
Published online: 15 July 2020
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