The speech functions of tag questions
and their properties. A comparison of their distribution in COLT and LLC
This article proposes a classification of speech functions of variable tag questions in British English conversations. Based on intonational, conversational and formal criteria the analysis shows that tag questions can not only function as questions and statements, but also as responses, commands and offers. A large group of tag questions cannot be captured by any of the traditional speech functions and are classified instead as Statement-Question blends. The article investigates the impact of the LLC and COLT corpora, and features such as gender, age and social roles, on the distribution of the different speech functions and their properties. The main finding is that all speech functions are present in the two different corpora, albeit with differing relative frequencies.