Conversational Opening Structure in English and Vietnamese

Hoang Tra My


This study aims to describe and compare the opening structures of English and Vietnamese conversations. The study is based on 214 English and 197 Vietnamese staff-manager conversations occurring in office settings gathered in movies. From Schegloff’s (1968) framework, the method of qualitative content analysis is applied to code the data manually and to find out opening sequences and the ways of combining these sequences to construct an opening section used by American and Vietnamese staff and managers. The findings indicate that, unlike Schegloff’s framework, the American and Vietnamese parties construct an opening section from four sequences namely summons-answer, greeting, phatic communication and topic initiation. One-sequence and two-sequence opening structures are by far more frequently deployed than three-sequence and four-sequence opening structures by both the American and Vietnamese subjects. However, the ways of employing and combining particular sequences by both parties are dissimilar.

Keywords: Conversational Opening, Conversational Opening Section, Conversational Opening Structure, Opening Sequences, Content Analysis.

Received 28th February 2018; Revised 18th March 2019; Accepted 4th April 2019


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