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  • Author: Yu-Fang Wang x
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This paper explores the use of a set of apparently synonymous contrastive conjunctions in Mandarin spoken discourse: zhishi, buguo, keshi, and danshi. Using Halliday’s (1994) analytical model of discourse, I examine their discourse-pragmatic and socio-pragmatic functions. The corpus contains two sets of data: one from casual conversation and another from radio/TV talk. I show that these seemingly synonymous conjunctions differ in several ways. Firstly, among these contrastive markers, keshi  is the marker that most frequently occurs in spoken discourse, particularly in casual conversation, whereas zhishi  is the one that occurs the least frequently. Secondly, danshi  tends to convey explicit contrast, while buguo and keshi express implicit contrast. Finally, buguo and keshi often appear in dispreferred responses expressing disagreement, while buguo seems to appear in formal speech situations, and keshi occurs in informal situations.