Intra-lingual pragmatic variation in Mandarin Chinese apologies
Influence of region and gender
Keywords:chinese apologies, variational pragmatics, regional variation, gender difference, macro- and micro-social factors
This study investigates regional and gender variations of apologies in Putonghua ‘Standard Mandarin' and Guoyu ‘Taiwanese Mandarin'. Production data were elicited from 40 participants from northern Mainland China and 34 from Taipei using an oral discourse completion task. Results showed that speakers in both regions employed a similar sequence of strategies and demonstrated similar preferences for context-dependent strategies in their apologies, but Mainland speakers used a significantly greater number of strategies than Taiwan speakers. Gender differences were observed in the apologies produced by Taiwan speakers regarding their use of illocutionary force indicating devices. The study found an interaction effect of power relation and region, with Mainland speakers sounding more apologetic than Taiwan speakers, but no interaction effect of power relation and gender; the effect of severity of offence was not clear, which could be attributed to the gap between the predetermined level of severity and speakers' actual perception of it in each scenario.
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