Researching and Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, Vol 2, No 1 (2016)

Use of linguistic devices in conveying refusals in Mandarin Chinese

Dan Jiang
Issued Date: 30 Jun 2017


Previous studies that have investigated L1 refusals have focused on turn taking, frequencies of semantic formulas, and politeness, including how linguistic forms were used to achieve politeness or facework. This study, motivated by teaching and learning Mandarin Chinese as a foreign/second language, puts the focus on the role of linguistic devices in conveying refusals. Open role-plays were used to collect linguistic data. A short interview was also conducted to elicit native speakers’ views about the way refusals were carried out. Integrating the approach of discourse analysis in the analysis, I identify some critical linguistic devices and discuss how they were tied with the ways that refusals were conveyed given the contexts. The findings bring more understanding to these linguistic devices at the pragmatic level and also emphasise the importance of contextualising linguistic devices to understand them. In the context of L2 learning, in focusing on the use of linguistic devices, the study highlights the value of looking at the examples of native speakers, not as means of judging the “authenticity” of learners’ pragmatic performances, but as a means of empowering learners with the pragmatic tool kit needed to allow them to fully express their own meaning in the L2.

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DOI: 10.1558/rtcfl.30044


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