The conversational use of reactive tokens in English, Japanese, and Mandarin

Patricia M. Clancy, Sandra A. Thompson, Ryoko Suzuki, Hongyin Tao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

184 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigates 'Reactive Tokens' in Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, and English. Our definition of 'Reactive Token' (= 'RT') is 'a short utterance produced by an interlocutor who is playing a listener's role during the other interlocutor's speakership'. That is, Reactive Tokens will normally not disrupt the primary speaker's speakership, and do not in themselves claim the floor. Using corpora of conversational interactions from each of the three languages of our study, we distinguish among several types of RTs, and show that the three languages differ in terms of the types of RTs favored, the frequency with which RTs are used in conversation, and the way in which speakers distribute their RTs across conversational units.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-387
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1996 Sept
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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