In this study, I investigate how Mandarin Chinese speakers manage the information flow of nominal referents across argument roles in different types of discourse, in trying to understand the relationship between Chinese discourse and the shape of its grammar. One conversation and two types of oral narratives are taken as distinct types of speaking for purposes of examining the potential text-type difference against information status. The unique and recurrent patterning of information status across conversation and narrative discourse suggests a pragmatic motivation for word order. The preverbal roles, be it A, S or O, have a great propensity for given information; the postverbal roles, either S or O, maintain a much higher incidence of new information. This lack of accusative or ergative alignment of argument roles has a parallel in grammar where the major syntactic processes treat A, S and O in the same way, suggesting an iconicity between discourse and grammar in Mandarin Chinese.