Volume 26, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1018-2101
  • E-ISSN: 2406-4238


This study investigates and compares the use of discourse markers (DMs) by native speakers and learners of English based on a corpus of adolescent intercultural exchange students. Thestudy employs a discourse analytical approach, in whichFung and Carter’s (2007)multi-category framework is appliedwith a view to examiningDMs used bya group of Taiwanese and British adolescentsin an intercultural setting.The analytical frameworkcontains four main functional categories: Interpersonal, referential, structural and cognitive DMs. Each DM was analysed qualitatively and quantitatively in order to identifythe functions it serves in its original contextandtofurther reveal the different uses of DMs between Taiwanese and British participants. The findings demonstrate that the DMs used by both groups of participants serve the fourcentral functions,andin particularTaiwanese participants display a significant use of interpersonal (e.g., yeah, oh) and structural DMs (e.g., so, okay), while British participants have a significantly higher usage of referential (e.g., coz/because, and) and cognitive DMs (e.g., like, well). The results of this study have direct pedagogical implications that can enhance the teaching of English as a Foreign Language (EFL)to better prepare learners for real life communication scenarios.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Adolphs, S. , S. Atkins , and K. Harvey
    (2007) Caught between professional requirements and interpersonal needs: Vague language in health care contexts. In J. Cutting (ed.), Vague language explored. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 62-78. doi: 10.1057/9780230627420_4
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230627420_4 [Google Scholar]
  2. Adolphs, S
    (2010) Using a corpus to study spoken language. In S. Hunston , and D. Oakey (eds.), Introducing Applied Linguistics: Concepts and Skills. Oxon: Routledge, pp. 180-187.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Aijmer, K
    (2011)  Well I’m not sure I think… The use of well by non-native speakers. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics16.2: 231–254. doi: 10.1075/ijcl.16.2.04aij
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ijcl.16.2.04aij [Google Scholar]
  4. Anderson, G
    (2000) Pragmatic markers and sociolinguistic variation. Amsterdam: John BenjaminsPublishing Company. doi: 10.1075/pbns.84
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.84 [Google Scholar]
  5. Biber, D
    (1995) Dimensions of register variation: A cross-linguistic comparison. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511519871
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519871 [Google Scholar]
  6. Biber, D. , S. Johansson , G. Leech , S. Conrad , and E. Finegan
    (1999) Longman grammar of spoken and written English. Harlow, England: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Bolden, G.B
    (2009) Implementing incipient actions: The discourse marker ‘so’ in English conversation. Journal of Pragmatics41: 974–998. doi: 10.1016/j.pragma.2008.10.004
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2008.10.004 [Google Scholar]
  8. Carter, R. , and M. McCarthy
    (2006) Cambridge grammar of English: A comprehensive guide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. (2015) Spoken grammar: Where are we and where are we going?Applied Linguistics36.1:1-12. doi: 10.1515/eujal‑2015‑0006
    https://doi.org/10.1515/eujal-2015-0006 [Google Scholar]
  10. Carter, R
    (2008) Right, well, OK, so, it’s like, you know, isn’t it, I suppose: Spoken words, written words and why speaking is different. In C. Hudson (ed.), The sound and the silence: Key perspectives on speaking and listening and skills for life. Coventry: Quality Improvement Agency, pp. 11-23.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Carter, R. , R. Hughes , and M. McCarthy
    (2011) Telling tails: Grammar, the spoken language and materials development. In B. Tomlinson (ed.), Materials development in language teaching (2nd edition). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.78-100.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Cutting, J
    (2011) Spoken discourse. In K. Hyland , and B. Paltridge (eds.), Continuum companion to discourse analysis. London and New York: Continuum, pp. 155-170.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Dunning, T
    (1993) Accurate methods for the statistics of surprise and coincidence. Computational Linguistic19.1:61-74.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Evison, J
    (2008) Turn-openers in academic talk: An exploration of discourse responsibility (Unpublished doctoral thesis). University of Nottingham, UK.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Evison, J. , M. McCarthy , and A. O’Keeffe
    (2007) Looking out for love and all the rest of it: Vague category markers as shared social space. In J. Cutting (ed.), Vague Language Explored. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 138-157. doi: 10.1057/9780230627420_8
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230627420_8 [Google Scholar]
  16. Fox Tree, J.E. , and J.C. Schrock
    (2002) Basic meanings of you know and I mean . Journal of Pragmatics34: 727–747. doi: 10.1016/S0378‑2166(02)00027‑9
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-2166(02)00027-9 [Google Scholar]
  17. Fraser, B
    (1999) What are discourse markers?Journal of Pragmatics31: 931–952. doi: 10.1016/S0378‑2166(98)00101‑5
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-2166(98)00101-5 [Google Scholar]
  18. Fuller, J.M
    (2003) Use of the discourse marker like in interviews. Journal of sociolinguistics7: 365–377. doi: 10.1111/1467‑9481.00229
    https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9481.00229 [Google Scholar]
  19. Gilmore, A
    (2004) A comparison of textbook and authentic interactions. ELT Journal58.4: 363-374. doi: 10.1093/elt/58.4.363
    https://doi.org/10.1093/elt/58.4.363 [Google Scholar]
  20. Hellermann, J. , and A. Vergun
    (2007) Language which is not taught: The discourse marker use of beginning adult learners of English. Journal of Pragmatics39: 157–179. doi: 10.1016/j.pragma.2006.04.008
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2006.04.008 [Google Scholar]
  21. House, J
    (2009) Subjectivity in English as Lingua Franca discourse: The case of you know . InterculturalPragmatics2:171–193.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Koester, A
    (2010) Building small specialised corpora. In M. McCarthy , and A. O’Keeffe (eds.), The Routledge handbook of corpus linguistics. London: Routledge, pp. 66-79.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Lin, Y.L
    (2013) Vague language and interpersonal communication: An analysis of adolescent intercultural conversation. International Journal of Society, Culture & Language1.1.2: 69-81.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. (2014) Exploring recurrent multi-word sequences in EFL textbook dialogues and authentic discourse. English Teaching & Learning38.2: 133-158.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. McCarthy, M
    (2006) Explorations in Corpus Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. McCarthy, M. , C. Matthiessen , and D. Slade
    (2010) What is discourse analysis?In N. Schmitt (ed.), An introduction to applied linguistics (2nd Edition). Oxon: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd, pp. 53-69.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. McEnery, T. , R. Xiao , and Y. Tono
    (2006) Corpus-based language studies. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Miskovic-Lukovic, M
    (2009) Is there a chance that I might kinda sort of take you out to dinner?: The role of the pragmatic particles kind of and sort of in utterance interpretation. Journal of Pragmatics41:602–625. doi: 10.1016/j.pragma.2008.06.014
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2008.06.014 [Google Scholar]
  29. Norrick, N.N
    (2009) Interjections as pragmatic markers. Journal of Pragmatics41: 866–891. doi: 10.1016/j.pragma.2008.08.005
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2008.08.005 [Google Scholar]
  30. O’Keeffe, A. , and S. Adolphs
    (2008) Using a corpus to look at variational pragmatics: Response tokens in British and Irish discourse. In K.P. Schneider , and A. Barron (eds.), Variational Pragmatics. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp. 69-98. doi: 10.1075/pbns.178.05ok
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.178.05ok [Google Scholar]
  31. O’Keeffe, A. , M. McCarthy , and R. Carter
    (2007) From Corpus to Classroom: Language use and language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511497650
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511497650 [Google Scholar]
  32. Östman, J.O
    (1981) You know: A discourse functional approach, Pragmatics and beyond II: 7. Amsterdam: John BenjaminsPublishing Company. doi: 10.1075/pb.ii.7
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pb.ii.7 [Google Scholar]
  33. Schiffrin, D
    (1987) Discourse Markers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511611841
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511611841 [Google Scholar]
  34. Tagliamonte, S
    (2005) So who? Like how? Just what? Discourse markers in the conversations of youngCanadians. Journal of Pragmatics37:1896–1915. doi: 10.1016/j.pragma.2005.02.017
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2005.02.017 [Google Scholar]
  35. Timmis, I
    (2012) Spoken language research and ELT: Where are we now?. ELT Journal66.4: 514-522. doi: 10.1093/elt/ccs042
    https://doi.org/10.1093/elt/ccs042 [Google Scholar]
  36. Tsui, A.B.M
    (1994) English Conversation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Underhill, R
    (1988) Like is, like, focus. American Speech63.3: 234–246. doi: 10.2307/454820
    https://doi.org/10.2307/454820 [Google Scholar]
  38. Wierzbicka, A (1991) Cross-cultural pragmatics. The semantics of human interaction. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Discourse markers; EFL learners; Intercultural communication; Spoken communication
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error