Questioning Chinese government officials on a live broadcast TV program: shifted second-person pronouns and journalists' stance and identity

Yan Zhou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

It has been recognized that Mandarin speakers use the neutral form (ni) and the honorific form (nin) of second-person pronouns to refer to others based on the social distance and power dynamics between the speakers. Drawing on eighteen hours of journalist-government official conversations in live broadcast TV programs, this study shows that the journalists often shift between the two forms of second-person pronouns when referring to government officials and that the shifts in the two directions appear in different sequential environments. Incorporating the stance triangle model and membership categorization devices, the findings reveal that the shifts indicate changes in the journalists' self-categorization and their evaluative stances toward the officials in the conversation. The shift from nin to ni tends to occur in the main actions where the interviewer has previously displayed a positive stance but shifts to a negative stance while holding the official accountable; the shift from ni to nin is often used rhetorically to help construct the inconsistencies and self-contradictions of the officials, which also indicates a negative stance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalText and Talk
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • conversation analysis
  • identity
  • journalism
  • second-person pronoun
  • stance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Philosophy
  • Linguistics and Language

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