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Interviewer effects on the phonetic reduction of negative tags, innit?

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Publication details

JournalJournal of Pragmatics
DateSubmitted - 6 Jul 2018
DateAccepted/In press - 22 Dec 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 11 Jan 2019
DatePublished (current) - 1 Mar 2019
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)31-46
Early online date11/01/19
Original languageEnglish


This paper investigates interviewer effects on speakers’ use of full, reduced or coalesced variants of negative tags, e.g. it's a nice day, isn't it/int it/innit? Using a corpus of North East English containing interviews with a range of participants and interviewers, I examine whether speakers use more phonetically-reduced variants when interviewed by someone who is more familiar to them and speaks a variety of English more similar to their own. Quantitative variationist analysis reveals that these interviewer effects do have an impact on the variation and apply in addition to linguistic and social constraints. When speakers use more full variants, this is characteristic of either a more careful speech style or, in some contexts, so-called “foreigner-directed speech” both of which typically have less lenition and contraction than the vernacular. The findings of this study emphasise that through proper consideration of the effects that interviewers have on the data they collect, we can gain a more comprehensive, reliable interpretation of linguistic variation.

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©2018 Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.

    Research areas

  • Discourse-pragmatic variation, Interviewer effects, Sociolinguistic interview, Style, Tag questions, Tyneside English

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