Choosing a college and major : the sociopragmatics of advice-requesting and giving in Jinyun Wu Chinese

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Xie, Huimin
Riddle, Elizabeth M.
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Thesis (Ph. D.)
Department of English
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Over the last twenty years, increasing attention has been paid to the performance of speech acts in varied languages. However, the speech event of advising has received less attention than speech acts such as complimenting and requesting, and there have been comparatively few studies focusing on non-Indo-European languages. Based on the discourse analysis of 30 hours of naturally occurring conversation in Jinyun Wu Chinese in College and major advising sessions, this study describes the speech event of advising, including the component speech acts of advice-requesting and advice-giving. The roles of the variables, social distance and social power relations and the relationship between indirectness and politeness are examined. Contra Brown and Levinson (1987), it is argued that the primary nature of advice requesting and giving in the typical Chinese college application process is face enhancing rather than face threatening, due to the high regard in which advisors, including parents, are held, and the strong sense of social responsibility assumed to exist. It is more consistent with the traditional Chinese notions of face, Tian and mianzi, which are still very strong values in Chinese society. Even though advice may be rejected, generally advice giving by teachers and parents in the process of choosing a college and major by a high school graduate is still strongly considered to be desirable assistance and a sign of caring.