Volume 21, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1606-822X
  • E-ISSN: 2309-5067



This study examines the uses of Mandarin Chinese ‘but’ as a contrastive discourse marker (CM) in spoken discourse. The data were taken from casual conversations, TV/radio single-interviewee interviews and TV panel news interviews. We found that two main types of the CM were used to mark contrast: restrictive and cancellative . Restrictive is similar to the in usage in that it modifies the validity of the preceding proposition to signal implicit contrast. Cancellative is used to cancel the validity of a previous proposition to indicate explicit contrast. As such, restrictive can serve as a topic-shift marker and to convey implicit disagreement; cancellative often acts as a topic-change marker used to introduce explicit disagreement. In particular, both restrictive and cancellative can serve as metacoherence markers, which are often employed by interview hosts/hostesses to make the discourse optimally coherent.

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