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Does speaker role affect the choice of epistemic adverbials in L2 speech?: evidence from the Trinity Lancaster Corpus

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Publication date2015
Host publicationYearbook of Corpus Linguistics and Pragmatics 2015
EditorsJesús Romero-Trillo
Number of pages20
ISBN (electronic)9783319179483
ISBN (print)9783319179476
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Publication series

NameYearbook of Corpus Linguistics and Pragmatics
ISSN (Print)2213-6819


This study investigates stance-taking strategies in a context of an examination of spoken English. The focus of the research is on the interaction between the candidates (advanced L2 speakers) and the examiners (L1 speakers of English). In particular, the study explores the use of epistemic adverbial markers such as ‘maybe’, ‘certainly’ and ‘surely’. These markers are used not only to express speakers’ position (certainty or uncertainty) towards a statement, but also to express speakers’ position towards other interlocutors (e.g. to manage interpersonal relationships or to downplay strong assertions). The study is based on the advanced subsection of the Trinity Lancaster Corpus of spoken L2 production which currently contains approximately 0.45M words based on four speaking tasks: one mostly monologic task and three highly interactive tasks. The study compares the expression of epistemic stance by both the candidates and examiners and explains the differences between speakers’ performance in terms of different speaker roles assumed by the candidates and examiners in three dialogic tasks. The study stresses the importance of looking at the contextual factors of speakers’ pragmatic choices and demonstrates that when studying L2 spoken production it is important to go beyond characterising the speakers as ‘native’ or ‘non-native’ speakers of a language. Whereas the fact of being a ‘native user’ or a ‘non-native user’ can indeed be part of the speaker role and speaker identity, other equally important factors arising from the context of the exchange may play a role in speakers’ stance-taking choices.