Perceptions of extended concurrent speech in Mandarin

Weihua Zhu

Abstract

In this paper, we adopt Kádár and Haugh’s (2013) discursive-interactional approach to argue that extended concurrent speech for floor taking or topic switching can be perceived as normal and qiàdàng (appropriate). Spontaneous mundane conversations and interviews in Mandarin were collected and transcribed by means of interactional sociolinguistic methods. A close analysis was conducted on participants’ responses to the extended concurrent speech for floor taking or topic switching and their retrospective thoughts. Results show that the participants did not view the speech as inappropriate. They produced the speech to achieve relational goals, clarify things, collaborate on a topic, claim participatory rights or display high involvement. They enjoyed conversing around a trivial topic in informal settings. This challenges the argument of long overlapping, floor taking or topic switching as problematic in the literature. The findings indicate the importance of embracing different perspectives from varying sources to understand perceptions of turn-taking mechanisms in Mandarin conversation. This study can contribute to our understanding of interpersonal pragmatics and the conventional views/norms that might cause communication misunderstanding in cross-cultural contact.

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