Publication details [#65692]

Bueno-Alastuey, María Camino and Pascual Pérez-Paredes. 2019. A corpus-driven analysis of certainty stance adverbs: Obviously, really and actually in spoken native and learner English. Journal of Pragmatics 140 : 22–32.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
Amsterdam: Elsevier


This paper collates stance adverb use between native speakers (NSs) and non-native speakers (NNSs) in written language. It collates English NSs’ and three varied NNSs (Chinese, German and Spanish) groups’ use of frequent stance adverbs during the same task. The three assayed adverbs (obviously, really and actually) acted otherwise as to frequency of use and pragmatic meaning. The main odds in use and pragmatic meanings were not between NSs and NNSs groups, but amid NNS groups. Adverbs were mostly used in their epistemic meaning in the four groups but the position of the adverbs was distinct. Abstract This paper examines the most frequent certainty adverbs in the extended LOCNEC (Aguado et al. 2012) and their frequency and use in three datasets of the LINDSEI (Chinese, German and Spanish LINDSEI components). Our analysis of certainty adverbs yields a complex picture. Obviously was fundamentally used by English speakers while really was used significantly more frequently by German speakers. The frequency of actually was not significantly different between the English native speakers and two of the learner language datasets, but Germans also showed significant differences with the English and the other two non-native groups. NSs and Chinese frequencies of use for actually and really were not significantly different, which reinforces the notion that, quantitatively, these two groups of speakers approached the picture task in ways that diverged from the German and Spanish speakers. An examination of the pragmatic contexts of use of the certainty adverbs revealed that both NSs and NNSs restricted their semantic choice to classic epistemic meanings with few instances of more complex pragmatic meanings. However, the position of those adverbs was different in the English data.