Sociable Arguments Among Chinese Friends: Process and Management

Vol. 23 No. 3   12/1993   


Sociable Arguments Among Chinese Friends: Process and Management 


Sai-hua Kuo 









Key words

Argumentative strategyCasual conversationConflict talkConersational styleframemessage and meta-messagepositive politenessSociable argument


    Taking data from tape-recorded naturally occurring conversations, this study examines the process and management of ‘sociable arguments’ among Chinese friends. I first analyze a dispute between two close female friends to illustrate how talk that is argumentative in form may have sociable functions the two speakers. I then give three examples to show how consensus is negotiated and accomplished by mean of submission or compromise in the course of argument. I have found that 80% of the adversative episodes in my data ended in a stand-off, that is, participants 

continued to maintain opposing positions with neither submitting. In addition, when arguments arose, the Chinese disputants tended to take strong stances toward what they were saying and repeatedly disagreed with their opponents. I propose that the speakers’ argumentative overtly competitive behavior, which is directed to solidarity enhancement and generating preferred social relationships, also implies their strong need to present an independent and sincere self. 



Author: Sai-hua Kuo
Genre: Article