Edited by María de los Ángeles Gómez González and J. Lachlan Mackenzie
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 296] 2018
► pp. 109–144
“God that came out quick didn’t it eh”
Variable and invariable tag questions in spoken British English
This study compares and contrasts British English variable tag questions, i.e. those containing a grammatically dependent question tag (e.g. isn’t it?), with invariable ones, i.e. those containing lexical tag questions (e.g. right?). Results are reported for five research questions concerning the (i) formal and (ii) functional characteristics of variable and invariable tag questions, as well as the factors motivating the choice of one type over the other, namely (iii) gender, (iv) age and (v) genre. Based on a sample of 858 tag questions, my findings suggest that British English shows a consistently higher preference for variable tag questions (717 vs. 141 tokens). Further differences and parallelisms are revealed for formal, functional, sociolinguistic and distributional conditions, raising new implications for further inquiry.