Article published in:Compiling and analysing the Spoken British National Corpus 2014
Edited by Tony McEnery, Robbie Love and Vaclav Brezina
[International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 22:3] 2017
► pp. 429–455
Sociolinguistic variation at the grammatical/discourse level
Demonstrative clefts in spoken British English
This paper brings together the study of sociolinguistic variation and the area of grammatical analysis by investigating demonstrative cleft constructions in spoken British English such as That’s what I wanted to talk about and This is where I saw him. Using the Spoken BNC2014S, I ask whether speaker characteristics, including gender, age, education and occupation, might be correlated with the use of demonstrative clefts and with various aspects of their structure (preference for the distal or proximal demonstrative pronoun, use of negative polarity, and use of stance adverbs). Findings suggest that in British English, demonstrative cleft use is more likely to be present in the speech of male compared to female speakers, working adults in higher-skilled occupations compared to semi-skilled adults, and in adults of middle age compared to younger adults. This work shows that even highly abstract grammatical constructions can be sensitive to speaker preferences and linguistic communicative style.
Keywords: demonstrative clefts, sociolinguistic variation, spoken British English, anaphora
Published online: 23 November 2017
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