Inference-embedded yes/no interrogatives in Mandarin Chinese conversation
Keywords:yes/no interrogative, inference-embedded, correction, action formation, action ascription
In talk-in-interaction, the details of the design of a yes/no interrogative (YNI) index the speaker’s epistemic stance about the issue in question. Adopting conversation analysis as the research method, the present study examines the interactional deployment of inference-embedded YNIs in Mandarin Chinese. The analysis of the turn designs and sequential environments of these interrogatives, as well as the design of the responses to them, indicates that a sequence organisation is engendered in and through the production of inference-embedded YNIs. Since the recipient has epistemic primacy over what is questioned, the questioner’s inference embedded in YNIs may be congruent or incongruent with the recipient’s own state of affairs. In this respect, the questioner’ s inference may be right or wrong. If the recipient finds that the inference is wrong, he or she has the responsibility to execute correction of the questioner’s wrong inference. Indeed, the recipient does display his/her treatment of the inference as wrong through correction. It is through such reflexive connection between the production (action formation) and the interpretation (action ascription) of the YNI that the inference-embedded YNI is treated as a practice for projecting a correction of what is inferred to the question recipient.
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