Volume 31, Issue 3
  • ISSN 0172-8865
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9730
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Discourse markers are a feature of everyday conversation — they signal attitudes and beliefs to their interlocutors beyond the base utterance. One particular type of discourse marker is the invariant tag (InT), for example New Zealand and Canadian English eh. Previous studies of InTs have clearly described InT uses in one language variety (e.g. Berland 1997, on London teenage talk; Stubbe and Holmes 1995, on NZ English; on sociolinguistic features e.g. Stubbe and Holmes 1995 and on single markers e.g. Avis 1972; Love 1973; Gibson 1977; Meyerhoff 1992 and 1994; Gold 2005, 2008 on eh). However, the class of InTs has not yet been fully described, and the variety of approaches taken (corpus- and survey-based) does not easily allow for cross-varietal or cross-linguistic comparison. This study investigates InTs in three varieties of English from a corpus-based approach. It lists the InTs available in New Zealand, British and Indian English through their occurrences in their respective International Corpus of English (ICE) corpora, and compares usages of four tags across the varieties. The description offers a clearer overview of the InT class for descriptive grammars, as well as more explicit definitions and usage guides for e.g. EFL/ESL pedagogy. An unambiguous description of several InTs and their meanings will also allow more thorough comparison in studies of other English varieties. Finally, the results offer another viewpoint on the issue of representativeness in corpora with respect to regional versus national varieties of the Englishes.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): corpus linguistics; English varieties; invariant tags; semantic functions
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