Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Language in Conflict: A Study of Teacher-student Conflicts

Dr. Judy Woon Yee Ho.

Narrative is an important subject of study as an interesting linguistic and cultural phenomenon. It constitutes a crucial means of presenting and representing human experience, and restructuring the world. In giving first-person accounts, one is making sense of one’s experience and life, and one’s relationships with other social beings and the world. As conflict is an important aspect of social life, narrative provides a rich source for the study of conflict.
The present study is a linguistic analysis of conflicts with students as constructed and represented in teachers’ narratives. The aim is to investigate the role of language in conflict. Ten secondary school teachers in Hong Kong were interviewed. They narrated their difficult experiences with principals, colleagues, students, students’ parents and the education authorities. For the present paper, two narratives are extracted (from a total of 133 narratives which comprise over 3300 sentences) for detailed analysis and they tell how a language teacher interacts with ill-disciplined and low-performing students. The semantic and pragmatic meanings of verbal processes and Cantonese sentence particles will be examined to explicate the speech acts entailed in the conflicts and their resolutions. It will be shown that language plays an important role in creating, negotiating and resolving conflict, and mediates the challenge to and re-positioning of a hierarchical relationship.


Dr. Judy Woon Yee Ho  (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China)
Assistant Professor
Department of English
Lingnan University, Hong Kong

  • Narrative
  • Conflict
  • Linguistic analysis
  • Verbal processes
  • Cantonese sentence particles
  • speech acts
  • power relations

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)