Performative intersubjectivity

Claiming epistemic primacy with wo gaosu ni ‘I tell you’ in Mandarin conversation


  • Haiping Wu California State University, Long Beach



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.

Author Biography

Haiping Wu, California State University, Long Beach

Haiping Wu is associate professor of Chinese linguistics at California State University, Long Beach. Her research interests include naturally occurring conversations in social interaction, with a particular focus on reported speech, stance-taking, story-telling, topic management, and language change. Integrating culture and technology into Chinese language teaching is also one of her pedagogical focuses.


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How to Cite

Wu, H. (2022). Performative intersubjectivity: Claiming epistemic primacy with wo gaosu ni ‘I tell you’ in Mandarin conversation. East Asian Pragmatics, 7(2), 207–236.