Volume 9, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1877-7031
  • E-ISSN: 1877-8798
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This paper examines two emerging discourse uses, topic-shifting and trail-off, of a temporal conjunction in spontaneous Mandarin conversation. Unlike traditional approaches that focus exclusively on such textual functions as temporality and consequentiality of , the present study considers the role of prosody in making recognizable as a topic-shifting and trail-off marker in interaction. Using the framework of conversation analysis, this paper reveals that, as a topic-shifting marker, signals both stepwise and disjunctive topic shifts; as a trail-off marker, it marks the closure of the current turn and invites the recipient’s response. The prosodic analysis demonstrates that the topic-shifting shows a significantly longer duration and larger pitch range than its other uses; the trail-off features intonational independence, loudness diminuendo, and/or durational lengthening. These prosodic designs, in collaboration with particular sequential environment, make the new discourse uses and their associated interactional purposes recognizable by conversation co-participants.


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