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.
Archer, D. (2005). Questions and answers in the English courtroom (1640–1760): A socio-pragmatic analysis. Philadelphia: John Benjamins. https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.135
Austin, J. L. (1962). How to do things with words. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Brown, P., & Levinson, S. C. (1978). Universals of language usage: Politeness phenomena. In E. N. Goody (Ed.), Questions and politeness strategies in social interaction (pp. 56–311). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Brown, P., & Levinson, S. C. (1987). Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511813085
Clayman, S. E., & Heritage, J. (2002). Questioning presidents: Journalistic deference and adversarialness in the press conferences of U.S. Presidents Eisenhower and Reagan. Journal of Communication, 52(4), 749–775. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2002.
Clift, R. (2016). Conversation analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781139022767
Couper-Kuhlen, E. (2012). Some truths and untruths about final intonation in conversational questions. In J. P. De Ruiter (Ed.), Questions: Formal, function and interactional perspectives (pp. 123–145). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139045414.009
Curl, T. S., & Drew, P. (2008). Contingency and action: A comparison of two forms of requesting. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 41(2), 129–153. https://doi.org/10.1080/08351810802028613
Drew, P. (2005). Conversation analysis. In K. L. Fitch & R. E. Sanders (Eds.), Handbook of language and social interaction (pp.71-102). London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Drew, P. (2013). Turn design. In J. Sidnell & T. Stivers (Eds.), The handbook of conversation analysis (pp. 131–149). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118325001.ch7
Enfield, N. J., Stivers, T., & Levinson, S. C. (2010). Question–response sequences in conversation across ten languages: An introduction. Journal of Pragmatics, 42(10), 2615–2619. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2010.04.001
Fitzgerald, R., & Housley, W. (2015). Advances in membership categorisation analysis. London: Sage. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781473917873
Freed. A. F. (1994). The form and function of questions in informal dyadic conversation. Journal of Pragmatics, 21(6), 621–644. https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(94)90101-5
Garfinkel, H. (1967). Studies in ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Goody, E. N. (1978). Towards a theory of questions. In E. N. Goody (Ed.), Questions and politeness strategies in social interaction (pp. 17–43). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Halliday, M. A. K. (1985). An introduction to functional grammar. London: Arnold.
Heinemann, T. (2006). ‘Will you or can’t you?’: Displaying entitlement in interrogative requests. Journal of Pragmatics, 38(7), 1081–1104. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2005.09.013
Heritage, J. (1984). Garfinkel and ethnomethodology. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Heritage, J. (1988). Explanations as accounts: A conversation analytic perspective. In C. Antake (Ed.), Analyzing everyday explanation: A casebook of methods (pp. 127–144). London: Sage.
Heritage, J. (2002). The limits of questioning: Negative interrogatives and hostile question content. Journal of Pragmatics, 34(10–11), 1427–1446. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-2166(02)00072-3
Heritage, J. (2003). Designing questions and setting agendas in the news interview. In P. Glenn, C. LeBaron, & J. Mandelbaum (Ed.), Studies in language and social interaction (pp. 57–90). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Heritage, J. (2010). Questioning in medicine. In A.F. Freed & S. Ehrlich (Ed.), ‘Why do you ask?’: The function of questions in institutional discourse (pp. 42–68). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Heritage, J. (2011). Territories of knowledge, territories of experience: Empathic moments in interaction. In T. Stivers, L. Mondada, & J. Steensig (Eds.), The morality of knowledge in conversation (pp.159–183). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511921674.008
Heritage, J. (2012). Epistemics in action: Action formation and territories of knowledge. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 45(1), 1–29. https://doi.org/10.1080/08351813.2012.646684
Heritage, J. (2013). Epistemics in conversation. In J. Sidnell & T. Stivers (Eds.), The handbook of conversation analysis (pp. 370–394). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118325001.ch18
Heritage, J., & Raymond, G. (2012). Navigating epistemic landscapes: Acquiescence, agency and resistance in response to polar questions. In J. P. de Ruiter (Ed.), Questions: Formal, functional and interactional perspectives (pp. 179–192). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139045414.013
Heritage, J., Raymond, C. W., & Drew, P. (2019). Constructing apologies: Reflexive relationships between apologies and offenses. Journal of Pragmatics, 142, 185–200. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2019.01.001
Heritage, J., & Roth, A. (1995). Grammar and institution: Questions and questioning in the broadcast news interview. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 28(1), 1–60. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327973rlsi2801_1
Hoey, E. M., & Kendrick, K. H. (2017). Conversation analysis. In A. M. B. de Groot & P. Hagoort (Eds.), Research methods in psycholinguistics: A practical guide (pp. 151–173). Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.
Hymes, D. (1974). Foundations in sociolinguistics: An ethnographic approach. London: Tavistock.
Jefferson, G. (1988). On the sequential organization of troubles-talk in ordinary conversation. Social Problems, 35(4), 418–441. https://doi.org/10.1525/sp.1988.35.4.03a00070
Jefferson, G. (2004). Glossary of transcript symbols with an introduction. In G. H. Lerner (Ed.), Conversation analysis: Studies from the first generation (pp. 13–31). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.125.02jef
Kendrick, K. H. (2018). Adjusting epistemic gradients: The final particle ba in Mandarin Chinese conversation. East Asian Pragmatics, 3(1), 5-26. https://doi.org/10.1558/eap.36120
Kim, S. H. (2015). Resisting the terms of polar questions through ani(‘no’)-prefacing in Korean conversation. Discourse Processes, 52(4), 311–334. https://doi.org/10.1080/0163853X.2014.954950
Labov, W., & Fanshel, D. (1977). Therapeutic discourse: Psychotherapy as conversation. New York: Academic Press.
Lee, S.-H. (2015). Two forms of affirmative responses to polar questions. Discourse Processes, 52(1), 21–46. https://doi.org/10.1080/0163853x.2014.899001
Levinson, S. C. (1992). Activity types and language. In P. Drew & J. Heritage (Eds.), Talk at work: Interaction in institutional settings (pp. 66–100). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Levinson, S. C. (2010). Questions and responses in Yélî Dnye, the Papuan language of Rossel Island. Journal of Pragmatics, 42(10), 2741–2755. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2010.04.009
Levinson, S. C. (2012). Interrogative intimations: on a possible social economics of interrogatives. In J. P. de Ruiter (Eds.), Questions: Formal, functional and interactional perspectives (pp. 11–32). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139045414.003
Li, C. N., & Thompson, S. A. (1989). Mandarin Chinese: A functional reference grammar. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Lindström, A. (2005). Language as social action: A study of how senior citizens request assistance with practical tasks in the Swedish home help service. In A. Hakulinen & M. Selting (Eds.), Syntax and lexis in conversation: Studies on the use of linguistic resources in talk-in-interaction (pp. 209–230). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. https://doi.org/10.1075/sidag.17.11lin
Ochs, E., Schegloff, E. A., & Thompson, S. (1996). Interaction and grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511620874
Pomerantz, A. (1978). Attributions of responsibility: Blamings. Sociology, 12(1), 115–121. https://doi.org/10.1177/003803857801200107
Pomerantz, A. (1984). Giving a source or basis: The practice in conversation of telling ‘how I know’. Journal of Pragmatics, 8(5–6), 607–625. https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(84)90002-X
Pomerantz, A. (1988). Offering a candidate answer: An information seeking strategy. Communication Monographs, 55(4), 360–373. https://doi.org/10.1080/03637758809376177
Pomerantz, A. M. (1980). Telling my side: ‘Limited access’ as a ‘fishing’ device. Sociological Inquiry, 50(3–4), 186–198. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-682X.1980.tb00020.x
Qi Luyang. (2011). Xiandai hanyu yuqi chengfen yongfa cidian (The Dictionary of the usage of contemporary Mandarin modal components). Beijing: Shangwu Yinshuguan.
Quirk, R., Greenbaum, S., Leech, G., & Svartvik, J. (1985) A comprehensive grammar of the English language. New York: Longman.
Raymond, G. (2003). Grammar and social organization: Yes/no interrogatives and the structure of responding. American Sociological Review, 68(6), 939–967. https://doi.org/10.2307/1519752
Sacks, H. (Fall 1964). Lecture 6: The MIR membership categorization device. In G. Jefferson (Ed.), Lectures on conversation (pp. 40–48). Oxford: Blackwell.
Sacks, H., Schegloff, E. A., & Jefferson, G. (1974). A simple systematics for the organization of turn-taking for conversation. Language, 50(4), 696–735. https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.1974.0010
Schegloff, E. A. (2007). Sequence organization in interaction: A primer in conversation analysis (Vol. 1). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511791208
Schegloff, E. A., & Sacks, H. (1973). Opening up closings. Semiotica, 8(4), 289–327. https://doi.org/10.1515/semi.1922.214.171.1249
Searle, J. (1969). Speech acts: An essay in the philosophy of language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139173438
Searle, J. R. (1976). A classification of illocutionary acts. Language in Society, 5(1), 1–24. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404500006837
Shao, jingmin. (2014). Xiandai hanyu yiwenju yanjiu (Research on contemporary Chinese interrogatives). Beijing: Shangwu Yinshuguan.
Sorjonen, M. L. (2001). Simple answers to polar questions: The case of Finnish. In M. Selting & E. Couper-Kuhlen (Eds.), Studies in interactional linguistic (pp. 405–431). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. https://doi.org/10.1075/sidag.10.18sor
Sperber, D., & Wilson, D. (1995). Relevance: Communication and cognition (2nd ed.). Oxford: Blackwell.
Stevanovic, M., & Peräkylä, A. (2014). Three orders in the organization of human action: On the interface between knowledge, power, and emotion in interaction and social relations. Language in Society, 43(2), 185–207. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0047404514000037
Stivers, T. (2010). An overview of the question–response system in American English conversation. Journal of Pragmatics, 42(10), 2772–2781. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2010.04.011
Stivers, T. (2011). Morality and question design: ‘Of course’ as contesting a presupposition of askability. In T. Stivers, L. Mondada, & J. Steensig (Eds.), The morality of knowledge in conversation (pp. 82–106). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511921674.005
Stivers, T., & Hayashi, M. (2010). Transformative answers: One way to resist a question’s constraints. Language in Society, 39(1), 1–25. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404509990637
Stivers, T., Mondada, L., & Steensig, J. (Eds.) (2011). The morality of knowledge in conversation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511921674
Stivers, T., & Rossano, F. (2010). Mobilizing response. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 43(1), 3–31. https://doi.org/10.1080/08351810903471258
van Dijk, T. A. (1976). Pragmatics, presuppositions and context grammars, In S. J. Schmidt (Ed.), Pragmatik/Pragmatics (Vol. 2, pp. 53–82). Munich: Fink.
Wang, Wei. (2020). Grammatical conformity in question–answer sequences: The case of meiyou in Mandarin conversation. Discourse Studies, 22(5), 610–631. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461445620916371
Wu, Yaxin, & Yu, Guodong. (2018). An epistemic illumination of questioning and its syntactic expressions in Mandarin. Journal of Zhejiang Foreign Language University, 3, 36–45.
Wu, Yaxin, & Zhou, Xiaoli. (2020). Addressing information discrepancies in conversation: bú shì...ma? interrogatives as account solicitations in Mandarin Chinese. Journal of Pragmatics, 162, 45–61. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2020.03.005
Yu, Guodong., & Drew, P. (2017). The role of búshì in talk about everyday troubles and difficulties. East Asian Pragmatics, 2(2), 195–227. https://doi.org/10.1558/eap.34673
Yu, Guodong, & Liang, Hongyan. (2018). A conversational analysis of preference for ‘X’ in selective question ‘X or (Y)’. Journal of Foreign Languages, 41(1), 52–63.
How to Cite
© Equinox Publishing Ltd.
For information regarding our Open Access policy, click here.