The noun-copula-clause (NCC) construction is a well-studied topic in English linguistics yet underexplored in languages like Mandarin. By investigating the use of wenti-shi (WTS) ‘(the) thing is/(the) problem is’ in Chinese conversation, this study aims to contribute to this literature. Drawing on natural spoken data and the framework of Interactional Linguistics, I argue that WTS can serve in conversation as a retrospective projector construction that foreshadows upcoming content while connecting the content to the previous discourse and an epistemic stance marker that signals a shift in perspective and helps form a (counter-)informing act, allowing speakers to upgrade their epistemic rights in the process of pursuing agreement. The structural and functional features of WTS both demonstrate commonalities with NCC constructions in other languages and reflect the influence of its component parts and language-specific tendencies.
Journal of Pragmatics – Elsevier
Published: Apr 1, 2018
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