Giving information in cosmetics sales interactions

exploring some interactional functions of the Mandarin response token dui

Jessie Chen*, Scott Barnes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study examines cosmetics sales interactions involving speakers of Mandarin Chinese. It focuses on assertion sequences initiated by salespeople, and explores the interactional functions of the Mandarin response token dui. It employs qualitative, collection-based conversation analytic methods. 10 people were recruited to participate. Five participants were salespeople working in a cosmetics store, and five participants were customers. 65 min of recordings were subjected to conversation-analytic transcription and analysis, focusing on 29 assertion sequences. In these assertion sequences, the response token dui occurs in third position, and is produced by the salesperson. It is argued that third position dui registers the development of common ground via the prior assertion and the customer's response to it. This is tied to important institutional goals, and foreshadows possible transition in the interaction. However, when customers offer weaker or ill-fitting receipt of the first position assertion, third position dui is much less likely to occur. This project generates new knowledge on sequential positions and interactional functions of the response token dui, and highlights its role in the organisation of cosmetics sales interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-46
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • conversation analysis
  • Mandarin
  • response tokens
  • assertions
  • sales interaction

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