The role of búshì in talk about everyday troubles and difficulties
Keywords:búshì, everyday trouble, declarative, affirmative, practice
In this article, búshì in Mandarin Chinese is divided into Type 1 default use, that is, the negation bú shì, and the Type 2 marked use, that is, the confirmation búshì. These two different uses of búshì are different in their semantic meaning and pragmatic functions no matter whether they take the form of or are embedded in declarative or interrogative grammatical constructions. It is demonstrated that Type 2 búshì in declaratives is in fact a practice that enables its speaker to fulfil the task of premonitoring or telling an everyday trouble or problem, and, furthermore, analysis is done to find out how the co-participants respond, hence working together with trouble tellers to form a specific sequence organisation of everyday trouble alluding or reporting in Mandarin Chinese. Specifically, the troubles talk signalled or reported by búshì falls into two kinds. In one kind, búshì-containing turn construction units (TCUs) only alert or signal to recipients that a trouble may be forthcoming. In the other kind, the búshì-containing TCUs are themselves explicit reportings or tellings about a trouble. These two kinds of búshì-containing TCUs lead to different sequence organizations: the former develops into a full elaboration of the volunteered troubles, and the latter continues with solutions to the troubles. The present study contributes to understanding Mandarin grammar from a functional perspective.
Couper-Kuhlen, E., & Selting, M. (Eds.). (1996). Prosody in conversation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511597862
Ding Shusheng. (1961). Xiandangdai hanyu yufa jianghua (Lectures on contemporary Mandarin grammar). Beijing: Shangwu Yinshuguan.
Drew, P. (2005). Conversation analysis. In K. L. Fitch & R. E. Sanders (Eds.), Handbook of language and social interaction (pp. 71–102). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Drew, P. (2013). Turn design. In J. Sidnell & T. Stivers (Eds.), The handbook of conversation analysis (pp. 131–149). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
Drew, P., Heritage, J., Lerner, G., & Pomerantz, A. (2015). Introduction. In. P. Drew, J. Heritage, G. Lerner, & A. Pomerantz (Eds.), Talking about troubles in conversation (pp. 1–26). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Drew, P., & Heritage, J. (Eds.). (1982). Talk at work. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Du Bois, J.W. (1987). The discourse basis of ergativity. Language, 63(4), 805–855. https://doi.org/10.2307/415719
Heritage, J. (1984a). Garfinkel and Ethnomethodology. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Heritage, J. (1984b). A change-of-state token and aspects of its sequential placement. In J. M. Atkinson & J. Heritage (Eds.), Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (pp. 299–345). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Heritage, J. (2012a). 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. (2012b). The epistemic engine: Sequence organization and territories of knowledge. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 45(1), 30–52. https://doi.org/10.1080/08351813.2012.646685
Heritage, J. (2013). Epistemics in conversation. In J. Sidnell & T. Stivers (Eds.), The handbook of conversation analysis (pp. 370–394). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
Heritage, J., & Maynard, D. W. (Eds.). (2006). Communication in medical care: Interaction between primary care physicians and patients. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511607172
Hu Deming. (2008). Cong fanwenju de shengcheng jizhi kan ‘bushi’ de xingzhi he yuyi (Understanding the form and semantic meaning of ‘bushi’ from the perspective of the generating mechanism of rhetorical questions). Anhui Shifan Daxue Xuebao, 3, 362–367.
Hu Jianfeng. (2011). ‘bushi … ma’ fanjieju de qianhoujing gongneng (English trans.). Dangdai Xiucixue, 3, 42–37.
Jefferson, G. (2015a). On ‘trouble-premonitory’ response to inquiry. In G. Jefferson, Talking about troubles in conversation (ed. P. Drew, J. Heritage, G. H. Lerner, & A. Pomerantz; pp. 62–95). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Jefferson, G. (2015b). On the organization of laughter in talk about troubles. In G. Jefferson, Talking about troubles in conversation (ed. P. Drew, J. Heritage, G. H. Lerner, & A. Pomerantz; pp. 165–193). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Jefferson, G. (2015c). On the sequential organization of troubles-talk in ordinary conversation. In G. Jefferson, Talking about troubles in conversation (ed. P. Drew, J. Heritage, G. H. Lerner, & A. Pomerantz; pp. 27–61). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Levinson, S. (1983). Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lu Shuxiang. (1982). Zhongguo wenfa yaolue (The outline of Mandarin grammar). Beijing: Shangwu Yinshuguan.
Ochs, E., Schegloff, E. A., & Thompson, S. (1996). Interaction and grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511620874
Pomerantz, A. (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
Pomerantz, A. (1986). Extreme case formulations: A way of legitimizing claims. Human Studies, 9(2–3), 219–229. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00148128
Pomerantz, A., & Heritage, J. (2013). Preference. In J. Sidnell & T. Stivers (Eds.), The handbook of conversation analysis (pp. 210–228). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
Potter, J., & Hepburn, A. (2003). ‘I’m a bit concerned’ – Early actions and psychological constructions in a child protection helpline. Research on Language and Social Action, 36(3), 197–240. https://doi.org/10.1207/S15327973RLSI3603_01
Qi Huyang & Hu Jiangfeng. (2010). Shilun ‘bushi … ma?’ fanwenju de yiwen yongfa (On the questioning use of rhetorical question ‘bushi … ma’ ). Shanghai Shifang Daxue Xuebao, 3, 105–113.
Sacks, H. (1992). Lectures on conversation. Oxford: Blackwell.
Shi Jinsheng. (1997). Fanwenju de ‘bushi’ (‘Bushi’ in rhetorical questions). Zhongguo Yuwen, 4, 79–82.
Teraski, A. K. (2004). Pre-announcement sequences in conversation. In G. Lerner (Ed.), Conversation analysis: Studies from the first generation (pp. 171–223). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.125.11ter
Yu Genyuan. (1984). Fanwenju de xingzhi he zuoyong (On the property and function of rhetorical questions). Zhongguo Yuwen (6)
Yu, Guodong., & Wu, Yaxin. (2015). Managing awkward, sensitive, or delicate topics in (Chinese) radio medical consultations. Discourse Processes, 52(3), 201–225. https://doi.org/10.1080/0163853X.2014.954952
Zhang Faming. (1989). Lun ‘bushi … ma’ fanwenju (On ‘bushi … ma …’ as rhetorical questions). Neimenggu Mingzu Xueyuan, 4, 79–82.
Zheng Guiyou. (2014). ‘bushi X ma’ ju de yuyi tezheng he biaoda gongneng (The semantic features and expressive functions of ‘bushi X ma’). Hanyu Xuebao (4): 14-21.
Zhu Dexi. (1984). Yufa jiangyi (On grammar). Beijing: Shangwu Yinshuguan.
How to Cite
© Equinox Publishing Ltd.
For information regarding our Open Access policy, click here.