Quantifying the referential function of general extenders in North American English

Suzanne Evans Wagner, Ashley Hesson, Kali Bybel, Heidi Little
2015 Language in society  
AbstractDiscourse markers (like, I don't know, etc.) are known to vary in frequency across English dialects and speech settings. It is difficult to make meaningful generalizations over these differences, since quantitative discourse-pragmatic variation studies 'lack [a] coherent set of methodological principles' (Pichler 2010:582). This has often constrained quantitative studies to focus on the form, rather than the function of discourse-pragmatic features. The current article employs a novel
more » ... thod for rigorously identifying and quantifying the referential function (set-extension) of general extenders (GEs), for example,and stuff like that, or whatever. We apply this method to GEs extracted from three corpora of contemporary North American English speech. The results demonstrate that, across varieties, (i) referential GEs occur at a comparable proportional rate in vernacular speech, and (ii) referential GEs are longer than nonreferential GEs. Collectively, these findings represent a step towards comparative quantitative studies of GEs' functions in discourse. (Discourse-pragmatic variation, general extenders, methodological approaches, American English, Canadian English)
doi:10.1017/s0047404515000603 fatcat:ilo3dwa6wrf3pl2a2sqf2x2t5y