Displaying overt recipiency: reactive tokens in Mandarin task-oriented conversation

Xu, Jun (2009) Displaying overt recipiency: reactive tokens in Mandarin task-oriented conversation. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.



This thesis examines the interconnection between the linguistic forms of reactive tokens and their associated conversational actions in Mandarin conversation. It aims to show how reactive tokens are produced and interpreted by participants themselves as the display of an awareness of being a recipient in longer sequences. The central argument of the thesis is that participants display overt recipiency through variation and selection of reactive tokens in longer sequences in Mandarin conversation.

This thesis shows that a consideration of the sequential organization of reactive tokens is as important as a consideration of their forms and functions in order to understand their prominent role in longer conversational sequences. Through sequential analysis, the investigation of reactive tokens shows that participants orient to and design a diversity of reactive tokens to construct and maintain mutual understanding and to create and secure recipient engagement. Through quantitative analysis, the frequency and distribution of six types of reactive tokens demonstrate their significant roles in first and second language interaction. Through deviant case analysis, the examination of miscues of reactive tokens reveals that reactive tokens might be a potential “barrier” in second language interaction, in contrast to being a “facilitator” in first language interaction.

I propose a framework for displaying levels of recipiency through the selection of reactive tokens in longer conversational sequences in Mandarin. The framework proposed here implies that the selection of one particular reactive token over another is more a question of varying degrees of recipient engagement, than of different linguistic forms. The use of reactive tokens in interaction is shown to be systematic, conversationally strategic, sequentially and socially organized. It can be concluded that seemingly trivial and random reactive tokens are more significant and orderly in Mandarin conversation than one may assume.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Supervisors:Hughes, C.R.B.
Szczepek Reed, B.
Faculties/Schools:UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > Centre for English Language Education
ID Code:1006
Deposited By:MRS JUN XU
Deposited On:03 Mar 2010 18:14
Last Modified:01 Apr 2010 14:54

Archive Staff Only: item control page