Dissertation
Dissertation > Language, writing > Chinese > Semantics,vocabulary, word meaning ( exegesis )

An Analysis of Conflict Talk in Moment in Peking

Author MaLiLi
Tutor LuChangHuai
School Dongbei University of Finance
Course Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords conflict talk Conversation Analysis Politeness Theory
CLC H13
Type Master's thesis
Year 2010
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Conflict talk is a common but complicated social and cultural phenomenon. It can be used in the narrow sense and broad sense. In the narrow sense, it refers to a type of speech act, such as disagreeing, opposing and arguing. But, generally speaking, the term of conflict talk is often used in the broad sense. It refers to a type of interaction in which hostile acts are exchanged between two or more parties due to participants’ differences in opinions, interests or desires. The oppositional argument, quarrel and dispute all belong to conflict talk. When conflict talk occurs, participants oppose the utterances, actions or selves of one another in successive turns.Conflict talk is inevitable in people’s life. It has both positive and negative effects. If it is effectively managed, it can be constructive and productive. If it is inappropriately managed, it will destroy the harmony among people even damage the harmony of the whole society. Therefore, based on the data collected from the novel of Moment in Peking written by Lin Yutang, this study intends to discover the formats of initiating, maintaining or escalating, and terminating conflict talk so as to help people get to know it better. Besides that, the analysis of conflict talk in the novel will not only help readers have a better understanding of conflict talk in other literary works, but also help the creators of novels and other forms of arts understand conflict talk theoretically and thus create better works for readers.Conflict talk has not been studied as a branch of discourse analysis until the early 1980s. To study it from the perspective of linguistics is rare. The research on conflict talk done by foreign scholars begins from the focus on the phenomenon of argument in 1980s. Before 1990s, scholars paid more attention to the conflict events rather than the turn and way of speaking when conflict talk occurred. Since the 1990s, scholars began to do research on conflict talk from new angles. Some scholars focused their attention on the structural features of argument, disputes and similar speech events. Scholars also studied conflict talk in different contexts and settings such as children’s disputes in a laboratory setting and in the classroom. Some scholars noticed other factors such as sex and social status that influenced conflict talk.Other scholars did some comparative studies such as conflict talks of children in two kindergartens separately located in America and Italy. As for the source of data, media become increasingly popular. For instance, scholars have examined argumentative talk radio shows (Hutchby,1996), television talk shows, public affairs television talk shows (Honda,2002) and real life documentaries (Dersley & Wootton,2001). Domestic researches on conflict talk began in the 21th century. Scholars mainly studied conflict talk from the perspective of conversation analysis and pragmatics.This study will do the research in the framework of Conversation Analysis and Politeness Theory. Having control of the right to speak at any time is called a turn. The turn at talk is a basic unit in social interaction. The study in this paper is based on this unit. Conversation Analysis attempts to describe the orderliness, structure and sequential patterns of interaction, so in this paper, the researcher mainly focuses on the structure of conflict talks based on turn-taking system, which is one of important parts of Conversation Analysis. The other parts of Conversation Analysis involve the management of overlapping talk, adjacency pairs and preference organization, which will attribute to the analysis of conflict talk together with Politeness Theory. According to Politeness Theory, everyone wants to save face and avoid losing face, which is the "face wants", so the speakers come into any conversation with two seemingly conflicting "face wants":negative face want and positive face want. The researcher hopes this study will make a little contribution to the study in this field.This study starts from the introductory part, which introduces the background, objective,significance and structure of the paper. Then in chapterⅡ, the researcher reviews previous researches on conflict talk, including the definition of conflict talk, the relevant researches on conflict talk and the pragmatic theories of Conversation Analysis and Politeness Theory. ChapterⅢfirstly presents how data are collected and then describes that both the qualitative and quantitative approaches are employed in this thesis. Chapter IV is concerned with the conflict talk examples selected from Moment in Peking with concentration on the initiating moves, escalating moves and terminating moves. Generally speaking, the initiation formats of conflict talk are composed of three steps. The first step can be an’arguable’ utterance or an action. Sometimes the first step can be missed. The second step is the disagreeing turn. Following this, if the conflict talk occurs, the second disagreeing turn must occur. Request, accusation, assertion and repeated assertion are four formats that initiate conflict talks. As regard to the escalating part, there are all together 4 formats, which are negation,. opposing question, explanation and repetition formats. Sometimes conflict talk directly enters the termination stage without escalation. Concerning the termination part, conflict talk can be terminated in the following forms:concession, compromise, third party intervention, withdrawal and change in topic. Given the specialty of data selected from a novel, sometimes conflict talk ends without description, which will be illustrated in detail in this chapter. Chapter V focuses on the qualitative and quantitative analysis of the initiation, escalation and termination of conflict talk. This chapter will list tables to illustrate how much percentage each format accounts for respectively. Then it will discuss the strategies for conflict talk management. In the last chapter, the researcher summarizes the major findings of this study and mentions the limitations of this study. Finally, this chapter puts forward some suggestions for future research.Grounded in this study, the author has achieved the following findings:Firstly, from the initiating phase, we can see that the main reason for conflict talk is people’s face-threatening behavior. As the data show, the face-threatening behaviors of request and accusation account for 66% of all. So, in daily life, when people want to request or accuse others, they should employ greater face-saving strategies so as to avoid the occurrence of conflict talk. Secondly, in the phase of escalating or maintaining, opposing question is a major format while a few people are inclined to choose negation. Besides that, there are 21.43% of conflict talks ending without escalation. It shows that a certain amount of people have realized that the necessity and importance of resolving conflict talk once a dispute occurs. What we need to do is to increase the portion of this kind of people.Thirdly, as for the terminating phase, compromise is the most appropriate way to end conflict talk. On one hand, compromise means that the conflict talk has been resolved. On the other hand, this way doesn’t lose either party’s face so it can keep the harmonious relationship between interlocutors. So, people should learn to be tolerant.

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