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The functional and social reality of discourse variants in a northern English dialect: I DON'T KNOW and I DON'T THINK compared

Pichler, H 2009, 'The functional and social reality of discourse variants in a northern English dialect: I DON'T KNOW and I DON'T THINK compared' , Intercultural Pragmatics, 6 (4) , pp. 561-596.

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This paper explores the functional and social meanings of the formal variants of the expressions I DON‟T KNOW and I DON‟T THINK. The qualitative analysis of the data shows that I DON‟T KNOW and I DON‟T THINK are highly routinized discourse formulae that perform multiple interpersonal and textual functions. The quantification of their phonetic and grammatical variants across function, age and gender reveals that the occurrence of non-localised and localised variants of I DON‟T KNOW and I DON‟T THINK is conditioned by different parameters. Non-localised variants show function-specific patterning: variants of I DON‟T KNOW pattern with broad functional categories; variants of I DON‟T THINK reflect fine-grained functional differences at a micro-level of analysis. Localised variants, by contrast, do not carry a functional load but evince orderly social heterogeneity. The results demonstrate that social variation in discourse extends beyond differential frequencies and strategic uses of discourse markers (DMs) to their formal encoding, and that function plays an important role in accounting for patterns of formal variation in discourse. The paper argues for a fuller integration of qualitative methods in the study of language variation and change in discourse, and calls for the form and function of discourse variables to be studied in greater detail.

Item Type: Article
Themes: Memory, Text and Place
Schools: Schools > School of Humanities, Languages & Social Sciences > Centre for Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Journal or Publication Title: Intercultural Pragmatics
Publisher: Walter de Gruyter
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 1612-295X
Depositing User: HS Pichler
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2011 10:07
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2013 17:16

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