Publication details [#72461]

Zhu, Weihua and Diana Boxer. 2021. Turn-taking and disagreement: A comparison of American English and Mandarin Chinese. Contrastive Pragmatics 2 : 227–257.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject


This study compares turn-taking and disagreement behaviors in spontaneous conversations in American English and Mandarin Chinese. The English and Chinese speakers observed some turn-taking rules and employed weak disagreement, but differed in the deployment of extended concurrent speech and strong disagreement. Analysis of the Chinese speakers’ reactions reveals nothing negative. This was confirmed by the Chinese speakers’ viewpoints that were explicitly stated in follow-up interviews, which signal that they perceived the practice of extended concurrent speech and strong disagreement in the collected conversations as politic. Furthermore, the similarities and differences between the speakers’ turn-taking and disagreement behaviors appear to be constrained by contextual factors. This discloses the interplay of context, practice, and perception. These findings can raise our awareness of potential issues that might occur in intercultural encounters and the importance of understanding cross-cultural pragmatic differences to avoid miscommunication.