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2018-19 School of Chinese Seminar

Interaction of Form, Function, and Prosody in Mandarin Conversation:
With Implications for Mandarin Language Education

Wei Wang

時間Time: 11:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. Monday 21 January 2019
地點Venue: Room 730, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, The University of Hong Kong
演講語言Language: Putonghua 普通話

Conversation is the locus of ongoing language change. Diachronically, new uses emerge as the result of grammaticalization or pragmaticalization; synchronically, these uses are arguably shaped by a number of interactional factors such as dialogic syntax, sequential position, and prosodic design. This talk takes a discourse-functional perspective, complemented by the framework of conversation analysis (CA), to examine a particular case — a multifunctional form, ranhou ‘then’, in Mandarin Chinese. It will first delineate its textual and discourse functions and provide an account for the internal link between its newer and older functions from a diachronic perspective. Then, the talk will discuss the emerging process of ranhou’s newest use, i.e. turn trail-off, focusing on the role of prosody in making this new function recognizable in conversation. With insights from the functional and prosodic analyses, this talk will compare second language learners’ (L2) use of this form with native speakers’ (L1) use. Implications for Chinese language education will be discussed, especially with regard to pragmatic teaching, in the hope of improving the curriculum design and ultimately developing L2 learners’ communicative competence.

對話是語言變化出現的場所。從歷時的角度看,語言形式所負載的新功能是語法化或者語用化的產物;從共時的角度看,新功能的產生是多種交互因素共同作用的結果,包括對話句法、序列位置和韻律條件。報告結合語篇功能學 (discourse-functional linguistics) 和會話分析 (conversation analysis),考察漢語中的一個多功能形式“然後”的文本功能和篇章功能,針對不同功能的歷時關聯給出分析,并討論韻律如何作用於“然後”的新功能的浮現過程。報告將功能和韻律分析的結論運用於漢語教學研究,比較二語學習者和母語者在話語標記使用上的異同,并對課程設計和語用教學提出建議。

Wei Wang is currently a post-doctoral researcher in the School of Modern Languages at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She received her Ph.D. in Chinese Linguistics from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her specialization is in Chinese discourse grammar, conversation analysis, and language pedagogy. Drawing from the methodologies of discourse functionalism, conversation analysis and interactional linguistics, her research focuses on the intersection of grammar, prosody, and social interaction. Closely related to this line of work, her language pedagogy research concerns Mandarin L2 learners’ pragmatic development, especially through the acquisition of discourse markers.


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