Luận văn An investigation on some types of verbal responses to questions in English and Vietnamese conversation

As Thomas (1998) proposes, in stead of repetitively saying “Yes”/ “No” or supply the information blatantly, a variety of reasons has been put forward for the universal use of indirectness. An utterance with indirect acts always has multiple meanings with interpretation of the indirect acts based on the direct act and the context. They require certain extent of mutual knowledge between participants. Most of the indirect acts are used purposefully, but mostly for politeness/ regard of “face”. Grice (1975) states that in direct speech act the speakers say what s/he means, while in indirect speech acts the speaker means more than s/he says, i.e. the speaker performs one illocutionary act implicitly by way performing another illocutionary act explicitly. As discussed above, in this section, we present some indirect response patterns to questions on the basis of “implcature”. When a speaker blatantly fails to observe a maxim, not with any intention of deceiving or misleading, but because the speaker wishes to prompt the hearer to look for a meaning which is different from, or in addition to, the expressed meaning. This additional meaning is “conversational implicature”. In addition, when a speaker blatantly fails to observe a maxim at the level of what is said, with the deliberate intention of generating an implicature.

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previous sections, our purpose is to examine the types of verbal responses to questions in English and Vietnamese, how Vietnamese speakers differ from English native speakers in their choice of response types to questions. In this study, data collection instruments will include two main questionnaires. First, The Discourse Completion Task (DCT) was designed to elicit some types of question responses from the set of English Native Speakers in English. Second, the Vietnamese translated version of the DCT questionnaire was used to collect some types of question responses from the set of Vietnamese Speakers in Vietnamese. Some issues in choosing methods to collect data In an attempt to answer these questions, a Discourse Completion Task (DCT) was used. Arguments for the choice of this data collection will be discussed in the following section. Several methods have been used in researching speech acts. Ethnographic methods have been used to collect naturally occurring question responses (or whatever types of speech events in being studied), which are observed or recorded, along with information about the sex, age, status, situation, culture, relationship…of the interactants. The advantage of this method is that it can reveal the linguistic strategies used in many contexts in a given language and culture. However, this method seems to be infeasible in Vietnam because Vietnamese people do not want to be recorded for any reasons. This method also wastes time and money in recording and transcription of taped interactions. Multiple choice methods, in which a series of questions is prepared with answers, subjects are asked to choose the answer they think is most appropriate. A possible advantage of this method is that it makes the job of the subjects easier and enables the researchers to get information from a large number of the subjects in a short time. However, it does not allow the subjects to provide as many possibilities as in the case of open-ended questions, as the responses given depend on the number of possibilities anticipated in the design of the questionnaire. In a study of linguistic forms of a speech act, therefore, this method would limit the variety of the information provided. One method that seems to overcome some of the disadvantage of the methods mentioned above is the Discourse Completion Task (DCT) (Cohen. 1996 – quoted in Tam, 2005, p.55). In the DCT, which is used in this study, the discourse is structured so that part of it is left open and part closed. A space is provides for the subjects to supply the speech acts under investigation, but the response is provided in order to cue the respondent as to the appropriate nature of the speech act realization. The DCT allows to elicitation of data from a large sample of subjects relatively easily, using the same situations where contextual variables can be controlled. It is a good way to gain insight into social factors that are likely to affect speech and performance. Cohen (1995, p.25) concedes that “Discourse Completion Test are effective means of gathering a large amount of data quickly, creating an initial classification of semantic formulas and ascertaining the structures of speech acts under consideration.” However, a major difficulty in using a DCT for research of this kind is that the researcher designing the questionnaire and the subjects providing responses to the situations may perceive the social factors of the context differently. Moreover, a difficulty when using a written task for collection of spoken language is that some certain kinds of information such as, non-verbal features of oral –interaction cannot be recorded. In brief, every method has its advantages and disadvantages. In this study, in order to collect sufficient data within the time and resource constrain available, and as discussed in the previous sections, our purpose is to understand some types of verbal responses to questions in English and Vietnamese conversations, not non-verbal responses, we will use DCT to collect data. The content of the questionnaire The situations in the questionnaire were designed to reflect real life situations. Additional information about the subjects’ personal backgrounds was obtained by a section at the front page of each questionnaire. The questionnaires are in English and in Vietnamese. The English Native Speakers were asked to answer the questions in English and the Vietnamese Speakers were asked to answer the questions in Vietnamese. The questionnaire was intended to elicit response forms from subjects. It consists of eight situations. To obtain the data for the study, observation was employed in order to bolster the results from the questionnaire, as well as to clarify and test the validity of the obtained information. Observation was paid on some types of English and Vietnamese question responses in daily-life situations, books, articles, novels, stories, authentic listening materials. 3. The selection of subjects The process of collecting data lasted for nearly five months with the help of my friends who works in offices and in universities where there occur native and non native speaker interactions. Data was collected from two groups of participants: one group of the English participants who come from Australia, America, and England; another group consist of Vietnamese people. All of them are working in RMIT University and American International College (AIC), World Bank Office of Road Project Management Unit 2 (RPMU2). The subjects in both groups are from 25 plus to below 50 years old; have had high levels of education. All subjects of the study are classified into two groups: Native Speakers of English (NSE) and Native Speakers of Vietnamese (NSV). The characteristics of each group are listed in the following table: Criteria NSE NSV Nationality English, American, Australian Vietnamese Language English as native language English as a foreign language Number of participants 14 (50%) (7 males and 7 females) 14 (50%) (7 males and 7 females) Occupation Teachers: 7 (25%) Staff: 4 (14.3%) Manager: 1 (3.6%) Assistant: 2 (7.1%) Teachers: 9 (32.1%) Staff: 3 (10.7%) Manager: 1 (3.6%) Assistant: 1 (3.6%) Table 3. Summary of characteristics of subjects 4. Data collection procedure The two questionnaires were conducted on 63 Vietnamese subjects and on 47 English ones. Two groups of subjects were asked to write what they would say in such a situation. After 3 months, 39 Vietnamese questionnaires and 21 English questionnaires were returned. However, only 14 English questionnaires and 16 Vietnamese questionnaires satisfactorily comply with the purpose of the study. The purpose of the questionnaire was to elicit how the English and the Vietnamese subjects express their responses to questions and how the two groups of subject differ in choosing question response forms. The data collected was considered as a source to gain some significant insights in pragmatic strategies of responding acts, the situations are designed to investigate socio-cultural factors including the decision of using different types of question responses in English and Vietnamese. 5. Data analysis As mentioned in the previous parts, we collected various kinds of question responses in English and Vietnamese, bilingual samples, on the basis of their communicative meaning; the data was classified into groups on the basis of the presented forms for the realization of responses to questions in each language. Contrastive analysis was employed so that the similarities and the differences in responses to questions in English and Vietnamese were found out on the foundations of the findings in each language. The number of overlaps by both native speakers and non native speakers was codified, counted and compared. The data was also analyzed according to the pragmatic function of question responses. It followed the discourse frame work proposed by Tsui (1994). The instruments for an analysis of the study are adopted in Tsui’s Model: Responding Move; Challenging Move; Responses and Challenges. According to Tsui (1994), the use of some terms “question”, “answer” (response) and “challenge” (reaction) is understood as follows: Question (Q): any eliciting of a response regardless of grammatical form. Answer (A): any response that fulfills the expectation of the question. Challenge(C): any response that modifies (clarifies; expands) or rates (negatively) a previous statement (question; answer; or another reaction) Fussell & Krauss (2002; p.41) gives an example of a information-seeking question and its response as follows: A: Who is president of the United States? (Q) B: That’s too easy. (C to Q) A: No it isn’t. (C to C) B: George Washington. (A to Q) In this study, we try to isolate some types of responses to questions which have the illocutionary forces of information and agreement seeking, clarification or confirmation checking. CHAPTER 3: SOME TYPES OF VERBAL RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS IN ENGLISH AND VIETNAMESE CONVERSATIONS This chapter is going to present, compare and analyze some various patterns from both English and Vietnamese conversations. After contrasting samples from English and Vietnamese textbooks, course books, novels, stories, daily conversations, newspapers…We try to find out some different types of question responses in English and Vietnamese. Tsui (1994), Searl (1976), Lakoff (1973) assert that any utterances which direct or indirect, fulfill the illocutionary intent of question’s elicitations are replies. On the other hand, those which do not provide information, disconfirm the speaker’s assumption, disagree with the speaker’s goal; fail to repeat or clarify what being said before are realized as challenges. In this chapter, we classify some types of question responses according to Tsui’s Model (1994). Tsui (1994; p.162) proposes different patterns of responses to questions: responses can be realized directly or indirectly as answers or replies to questions. These kinds of responses patterns fulfill the speaker’s goal directly or indirectly. The other responses are called challenges that do not provide what the speaker seeks; the challenges can be a refusal or an evasion. They do not fulfill the illocutionary intent of speaker’s elicitation. 1. Replies to questions As mentioned above, responses can be realized directly or indirectly as answers or replies to questions. In this section, we draw out two types of responses: direct and indirect responses. This type of response fulfills the speaker’s goal directly. In verbal interaction, any speaker who poses a question is assumed to be answered in a cooperative, sincere way. The speaker hopes the addressee to provide the expected information without misleading or confusing. 1.1. Direct responses We randomly choose 117 samples of English responses and 117 samples of Vietnamese responses, of which 68.3% in English and 49% in Vietnamese are direct replies. Based on the samples collected, we realized some types of direct responses as follows: 1.1.1. Supplying the missing information Q: Is there a gym here? A: Yes, Madam, it’s on the third floor. (60: 51) Q: The Ham sandwich. How much is that? A: $5.95. (60: 57) Q: And how long have you been married? A: Oh, for twenty-two years now. (48: 234) Q: Who was your first girl friend? A: Well, that’s easy. It was Emma. (60: 122) Similarly, in Vietnamese, the direct responses also give a proper answer. Q: Ch¸u mÊy tuæi råi? A: Ch¸u ba tuổi ạ. (10: 70) Q: Chó b¾t ë ®©u mµ nhiÒu c¸ r« thÕ? A: ë ngoài đồng. (7: 135) Q: Bao giờ em đi? A: Tối nay. (7: 135) 1.1.2. Agreeing Q’s assumption According to Levinson (1983) illocutionary intent of elicit agreement is that the addressee agrees with the speaker’s assumption that the expressed proposition is self-evidently true. English conversation Q: Did he go to the concert? A: He went. (52: 101) Q: Did she feel lonely? A: Very lonely. (50: 122) Vietnamese conversation: Q: Con thÝch b¸nh này chø? A: Con thÝch. (6: 39) Q: Ai ®Êy? ót Th­¬ng h¶? A: ót Th­¬ng ®©y. (2: 317) Q: Vî T­ N¨ng ®©u? A: Vî T­ N¨ng ®©y. (25: 219) 1.1.3. Confirming the assumption of Q’s question According to Brazil (1995) & Quick et all (1987), illocutionary intent of elicit confirmation is that the speaker believes the expressed proposition is true, but some certain things in the context lead him to doubt his belief. The addressee is able to confirm the speaker’s assumption is true. English conversation: Q: Don’t you think Marian looks better that she’s ever looked? A: That’s exactly what I am thinking. (67: 227) Q: What? Your wife is Emma? A: Yes, That’s right. (60: 122) Q: That’s the eleventh, isn’t it? A: Yes, so it is. (48: 238) Vietnamese conversation Q: C« Êy cã con? A: Ph¶i. (6: 134) Q: S¾p héi diÔn råi ph¶i kh«ng em? A: V©ng, s¾p. (2: 84) Q: Cô b¸n råi? A: B¸n råi! Võa b¾t xong. (6: 115) 1.1.4. Repeating or clarifying Q’s assumption A: I’d like anything to drink. Q: Anything to drink? What is “anything to drink”? A: Coke, orange juice, water… (50: 121) Q: How do you stay so slim? A: I follow the food combining rules. Q: Food combining? What’s that? A: Well, for example, I never eat protein and carbohydrate together. (50: 120) Q: C« lªn cÇu §¸ Xanh cã viÖc g×? A: Em vÒ trªn ®¬n vÞ cã chót viÖc. Q: ViÖc g×? Hay lµ c« lªn th¨m chång hay th¨m ng­êi yªu? A: Em ®i th¨m ng­êi yªu. (25: 234) Q: Anh T¸nh h¶? ThiÖt anh T¸nh h¶? A: T¸nh ®©y. Tao ®©y. Q: M×nh diÖt nã hÕt r«× h¶ anh? A: ê diÖt hÕt råi, trËn ®¸nh xong råi. (25: 116) The above samples collected reveal the significant similarities of direct response patterns to questions in English and Vietnamese conversations. In English, the expressions, such as “Right”; “That’s right”; “Sure”; “Yes, sure”; “Exactly”, “Me too”…are regularly used in direct responses while in Vietnamese, we often use some direct response patterns as: “V©ng”; “§óng”; “ChÝnh x¸c”; “Ph¶i”; “õ”; “Ch¾c ch¾n” and so on. In any verbal English and Vietnamese conversations, a speaker who poses a question is assumed to be answered in a cooperative, sincere and information way. Normal conversation proceeds so smoothly because we cooperate in them. According to Grice (1975), we are able to converse with one another because we recognize common goals in conversation and specific ways of achieve these goals. Grice (1975) also states the overriding principle in conversation is the cooperative principle that is developed by maxims (Quantity; Quality; Relation; Manner). However, the speakers do not always follow these maxims. When a speaker gives responses to questions, (s)/he can make the observance of the maxims or non-observance of the maxims as the following examples: Husband: Where are the car keys? Wife: They’re on the table in the hall. (61: 64) The wife has answered clearly (Manner), truthfully (Quality), has just given the right amount of information (Quantity), has directly addressed her husband’s goal in asking the question (Relation). She has said precisely what she meant, no more or no less and has generated no implicature. (i.e. there is no distinction to be made here between what she says and what she means; there is no additional level of meaning) Grice (1975) acknowledges that people may fail to observe a maxim because they are incapable for speaking clearly or because they deliberately choose to lie. In addition, we may sometimes either violate or ignore these maxims on certain occasions, either to mislead or to be uncooperative. We may use no or more maxims so as to implicate something. In this study, we present some types of indirect responses to questions in English and Vietnamese conversations based on “implicature” that accounts for what a speaker can imply, suggest, or mean, as distinct from what the speaker literally says. 1.2. Indirect responses As Thomas (1998) proposes, in stead of repetitively saying “Yes”/ “No” or supply the information blatantly, a variety of reasons has been put forward for the universal use of indirectness. An utterance with indirect acts always has multiple meanings with interpretation of the indirect acts based on the direct act and the context. They require certain extent of mutual knowledge between participants. Most of the indirect acts are used purposefully, but mostly for politeness/ regard of “face”. Grice (1975) states that in direct speech act the speakers say what s/he means, while in indirect speech acts the speaker means more than s/he says, i.e. the speaker performs one illocutionary act implicitly by way performing another illocutionary act explicitly. As discussed above, in this section, we present some indirect response patterns to questions on the basis of “implcature”. When a speaker blatantly fails to observe a maxim, not with any intention of deceiving or misleading, but because the speaker wishes to prompt the hearer to look for a meaning which is different from, or in addition to, the expressed meaning. This additional meaning is “conversational implicature”. In addition, when a speaker blatantly fails to observe a maxim at the level of what is said, with the deliberate intention of generating an implicature. 1.2.1. Indirect responses fail to observe the maxim of Quantity (Flouts exploiting the maxim of Quantity) A flout of the maxim of quantity occurs when a speaker blatantly gives more or less information than the situation requires. Petruchio has come to ask Baptista for his daughter’s hand in marriage: Pet: And you, good Sir! Pray, have you got a daughter Call’d Katherina, fair and virtuous? Bap: I have a daughter, sir, call’s Katherina. (61: 69) By confirming that he has a daughter called Katherina, but omitting any mention to her fairness or virtue, Baptista implies that she does not possess these qualities to any marked degree. Doobie: Did you invite Bella and Cathy? Mary: I invited Bella. (71: 40) Mary did not mention Cathy in her response. Mary gives indirect response to Doobie with implicature that Mary did not invite Cathy in the party. Q: Where’s my shirt? A: Is it in the drawer? Indirect responses can be a statement, or a question. In (26) A’s question implicates her husband’s might be in the drawer. A is asking B about a mutual friend’s new boyfriend: A: Is he nice? B: She seems to like him. (61: 66) B could simply have replied: “No” – this would give the maximum amount of information possible in the situation. In stead, B gives a much weaker and less informative response. B cannot say for certain whether the new boyfriend is nice or not, and speaks only on the basis of evidence he has. In (27), there is a clash of non-observance of the maxim of Quantity and Quality. A great number of similar cases are available in Vietnamese. These patterns of responses are rich, flexible and diversified. Q: Ngµn b¸o thÇy §øc vµ thÇy Hµ ®i häp ch­a? A: Em b¸o cho thÇy §øc råi. (17: 135) Q: Con muèn bè mua quÇn bß vµ ¸o thun. A: Bè ®· mua c¸i quÇn bß nµy. (17: 134) Q: Anh biÕt anh DÞu chø? A: ¤ng ThiÕu uý lß g¹ch Êy µ? (25: 129) Q: ChÞ ®Ñp l¾m ph¶i kh«ng? A: Cã lÏ ph¶i ®em n¨m b¶y chÞ phô n÷ kh¸c nÐn l¹i may ra míi b»ng ®­îc chÞ. (2: 65) In (30), A gives the response that could be interpreted as an indirect confirmation to Q’s doubt. 1.2.2. Indirect responses fail to observe the maxim of Manner (Flouts exploiting the maxim of Manner) Ann: Where are you going with the dog? Sam: To the V-E-T. (Vi- I- Ti) (71: 43) Sam produces a more elaborate, spelled out version of his massage, implicating that he does not want the dog to know the answer to the question just asked, because the dog may be recognize the word “vet”, and hate being taken there. Chång: BÐ Trµ Mi h«m nay rÊt ngoan, ph¶i th­ëng cho bÐ mét c¸i g× chø? Vî: Cê – Em – Mê nhÐ. (KEM) (16: 287) The wife exploits the maxim of Manner when replying her husband’s question. She indirectly implicates they should not let their daughter know about their plan. 1.2.3. Indirect responses fail to observe the maxim of Relation (Flouts exploiting the maxim of Relation) The maxim of Relation is exploited by making a response or observation which is very obviously irrelevant to the topic in hand. Leila: Whoa! Has your boss gone crazy? Mary: Let’s go get some coffee. (71: 43) Q: Are you coming to the cinema? A: I’ve got an exam tomorrow. (61: 139) In (34), the speaker gives indirect response implicates that he does not want to go to the cinema. It is raining very hard and the driver (D), stops to offer of a walker (W) a lift. D: Do you want a lift? W: Well, if you’re going near the campsite. (61: 132) W gives indirect response to D’s question by implying that he/she would only accept a lift to the campsite if the drive was going in that direction anyway. In Vietnamese, indirect responses that exploit the maxims of Relation are various. Consider the following: Q: Anh C d¹o nµy khoÎ kh«ng? A: Nã s¾p ®i V¨n §iÓn råi. (17: 201) Q: Sao? ThÕ gÆp mô Bä Muçm ch­a? A: Nã ®¸nh t«i gÊy mÊt mét cµng råi. (6: 44) Q: Anh cã muèn chÕt kh«ng? A: Anh nµy hái míi dë chø. (6: 98) In (36), the speaker gives indirect response “s¾p ®i V¨n §iÓn” implying that Mr. C is seriously ill, close to death. While in (37), the speaker implies his injury, a broken leg, to the questioner that he met his enemy. In (38), the speaker who violates the maxim of Relevance implies that no one want to die, and so does he. In both English and Vietnamese, the speaker often uses some “rhetorical questions”: “Do chickens have lips?”/ “Who understands Piaget?”/ “Why is the sky blue?” or some expressions, such as “War is War”/ “Boy is Boy”, “Woman is Woman”, “Fact is Fact” as indirect responses to questions. Consider the followings: Bert: Do you like ice-cream? Ernie: Is the Pope Catholic? (71: 43) Bert: Do vegetarians eat hamburgers? Ernie: Do chickens have lips? (71: 44) In the example (39) above, Ernie’s response does not provide a “Yes” or “No” answer. Ernie’s response also implicates that the answer to the question is “Obviously, yes”. In (40), Ernie gives indirect response by implicating that the answer is “Of course not!” Q: CËu cã cho r»ng nã sÏ thi vµo ®­îc ®¹i häc kh«ng? A: ThÕ cËu ®· thÊy chã cã v¸y lÜnh bao giê ch­a? (16: 387) Q: Tay C¸n d¹o nµy thÕ nµo? A: C¸n vÉn lµ C¸n th«i. (16: 132) Q: ChÞ nhµ d¹o nµy nãi nhiÒu n÷a kh«ng? A: §µn bµ vÉn lµ ®µn bµ. (2: 140) 2. Challenges According to Tsui (1994), any utterances which do not provide information, disconfirm the speaker’s assumption, disagree with the speaker’s goal, fail to repeat or clarify what being said before are realized as challenges. When the addressee does not fulfill the illocutionary intent of the questioner’s elicitation, the addressee is said to challenge its pragmatic presupposition. 2.1. Inability in supplying the expected information On some occasions, the speaker expresses his/her inability to provide information because it may be their lack of information needed, or their ignorance. Consider the followings: Q: Do you know where a good restaurant is? A: Sorry, I’m new around here. (60: 57) In (44), the addressee does not provide the information that the questioner needs because the fact is that he/she really does not know. Q: And now you’re married, so when’s your anniversary? A: I can’t remember. (60: 59) Q: When was the last time you went sailing? A: I can’t remember. Inside, p.122 Q: Where and how did you first meet? A: Oh, I don’t know. (50: 134) Q: Do you think you are faithful to your wife? A: I can’t tell you. (50: 192) Q: So what do you want to be? A: Uh…I’m not sure. I’m not sure. (48: 128) Q: And what sort of thing are you looking for? A: I don’t really know. (50: 136) In the above examples, the addressee seems to ignore the speaker’s elicitation or give a declaration of unwillingness to supply information. The situations are relatively common in Vietnamese. The Vietnamese seem sensitive to the kind of face-threatening responses to questions. They often use hedges, excuses or apologies for the failure to advance questioner’s goal. Q: Nã ®ang t¸n tØnh con nµo? Con kia ng­êi ngîm ra sao? MÆt mòi thÕ nµo? A: Em kh«ng biÕt n÷a, H×nh nh­ ch­a cã ai c¶. (2: 82) Q: T¹i sao anh kh«ng b¾n t«i? A: T«i…t«i kh«ng râ. (2: 57) Q: §Õn nhµ hé sinh cã ph¶i xuÊt tr×nh giÊy gi¸ thó kh«ng? A: Em chÞu th«i. (7: 136) The above illustrations of challenges are not significantly between English and Vietnamese. The English often use some expressions, such as “I don’t know”, “I’m really not sure”, “I couldn’t tell you”, “I can’t remember”, “I have

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