Sorry as a Marker for Self-negation Used by Learners in Language Classrooms
Linguistics and Literature Studies
This study analyzes the naturally occurring English word sorry in adult learners' talk in a language classroom and examines its role as a marker for self-negation from the perspective of pragmatic negation. The database for this study consists of 40 hours of video recordings of online tutorials for learning Chinese as a second language at a university in Hong Kong. The detailed analysis shows that to address various types of problematic utterances they make, learners do not always use an
... lways use an explicit negation operator such as no to negate their prior utterances but instead use sorry as an alternative. Rather than being used as a negation of a truth-functional operator for propositions, sorry is prominently used by learners as a device for objecting to a prior utterance in conversational implicature or other aspects of language use related to pragmatic negation. The findings also show that sorry plays a dual role by negating the prior utterance and predicting the next utterance, which may be either by the speaker or by the hearer, for correction. The reason for sorry being used as a marker for negation is discussed, and the study suggests that as sorry is perceived and understood maturely by speakers and hearers in context, it realizes the function of pragmatic negation.