Claiming epistemic primacy with wo gaosu ni ‘I tell you’ in Mandarin conversation
Keywords:stance, epistemic primacy, intersubjectivity, Mandarin conversation
Taking an interactional linguistic approach, this article examines the role of turn-initial wo gaosu ni ‘I tell you’ in informings in Mandarin conversation. Based on data from a television talk show, I argue that one major function of turn-initial wo gaosu ni is to serve as a ‘performative’ strategy in interaction that manages inter-subjectivity among interlocutors (Edwards, 1999, p. 140). Specifically, by treating oneself as the source of information and others as the uninformed, the wo gaosu ni-speaker asserts his/her epistemic primacy over the referent vis-à-vis coparticipants. I also propose that, drawing on this epistemic-encoding function, turn-initial wo gaosu ni can also act to reinforce the speaker’s affective stance, which may be supportive, affiliative, or antithetical to the ones taken by others.
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