Pragmatic strategies in academic English as a lingua franca : A corpus-based analysis of the use of the discourse markers, yeah, okay, and so during academic consultations hours

University essay from Högskolan Dalarna/Institutionen för språk, litteratur och lärande

Abstract: English is used as a lingua franca to communicate when interlocutors' do not share a first language (DeBartolo, 2014). This is prominent in academia, where teachers and students in international exchange programs communicate daily in English as a lingua franca (ELF). Previous research suggests that ELF speakers in this context use discourse markers (DM) as a pragmatic strategy to support their output and maintain a comprehensible discourse. However, most previous studies only used small corpora for qualitative analysis. This thesis adds to preceding research by combining qualitative and quantitative analysis of new data from an ELF corpus previously not used from this perspective. The context of the study is ELF spoken between students and teachers during academic consultation hours and possible pragmatic strategies in their use of the DMs yeah, okay and so. The analysis shows frequent use of DMs for both groups, but, perhaps due to the speaker roles, they favour different ones. For example, teachers use the function to explain and elaborate fourfold to students, this supports the nature of teacher exposition. Conversely, students' most frequently used functions indicate an active listener role, such as signalling receipt of messages. The results from this study indicate that, in an academic ELF context, teachers and students frequently use these DMs as pragmatic strategies to support their output and indicate attentiveness.

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