Volume 14, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1877-7031
  • E-ISSN: 1877-8798
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Adversative passives like Mandarin Chinese passives are known to convey adversity, but what “adversity” means specifically for speakers of in conversational discourse remains unknown. Whereas previous studies examine adversity within the clause, this study uses the lens concept to investigate speakers’ subjective evaluations of the event attested by the larger context beyond the clause. Using a subjectivity coding scheme and the discourse adjacent alternation method, I analyzed 4,203 values of event valence of 1,401 utterances and 65 alternations in spontaneous talk show conversations. Results show that: (1) The same event that a speaker evaluates as “adverse” using - is sometimes evaluated as “non-adverse” using non- structures. (2) The same +verb phrase that previous studies may deem “adverse” can be evaluated as “adverse” or “positive” by actual speakers. (3) 84.5% (1,184/1,401) of the time, passive in conversation expresses speakers’ evaluation that a causative event is adverse for the affectee, regardless of what reality is. (4) Adversity means undesirable, disadvantageous, morally or socially wrong, empathy-deserving, and/or sympathy-deserving for speakers of . The findings indicate that the adversity that conveys is not an objective description of reality but a subjective evaluation independent of reality–the Adversity lens. This study sheds light on subjectivity and specific manifestations of adversity in conversational discourse.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): adversity; discourse; grammar; lens; subjectivity
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