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How do Chinese speakers of English manage rapport in extended concurrent speech?

  • Weihua Zhu EMAIL logo
From the journal Multilingua


Little research has focused on extended concurrent speech, unexpected floor taking, or topic switching, since it has been deemed rare (Schegloff 2000. Overlapping talk and the organization of turn-taking for conversation. Language in Society 29(1). 1–63.) or inappropriate (Goldberg 1990. Interrupting the discourse on interruptions: An analysis in terms of relationally neutral, power- and rapport-oriented acts. Journal of Pragmatics 14(6). 883–903; Giora 1998. Discourse coherence is an independent notion: A reply to Deirdre Wilson. Journal of Pragmatics 29(1). 75–86). This study integrated Spencer-Oatey’s (2008. Face, (im)politeness and rapport. In Helen Spencer-Oatey (ed.), Culturally speaking: Culture, communication and politeness theory, 11–47. London: Continuum) rapport management model with the community of practice model (Wenger 1998. Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) to investigate extended concurrent speech for floor taking or topic switching. Data were derived from approximately 49 hours of conversations at the English-Corner community of practice and follow-up interviews with ten of the participants. Interactional sociolinguistic methods were employed. Extended concurrent speech for floor taking or topic switching was found to be used as a resource for rapport management. Most of the instances appeared to be face-maintaining and rapport-maintaining; some were face-enhancing and rapport-enhancing. The few potentially face-threatening instances turned out to be rapport-maintaining. These might result from the participants’ interactional goals, rights preservation, or identity revelation/negotiation, and the informality of the context. The ten interviewees provided insights that corroborated the analysis.


This study is part of a larger research project that was partially funded by Language Learning. I would like to thank Prof. Jun Wang for her help with the project. I am also indebted to the editor and anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback. All remaining errors are my own.

Transcription conventions (adapted from Schiffrin 1987)


Speaker turn start


Overlapping utterances


Contiguous utterances after an interruption




A short untimed pause






Characteristics of the talk


Items in doubt


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Published Online: 2016-6-16
Published in Print: 2017-3-1

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