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Pragmatic noise in Shakespeare's plays

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Pragmatic noise, first coined in Culpeper and Kytö (2010), refers to the semi–natural noises, such as ah, oh, and ha, that have evolved to express a range of pragmatic and discoursal functions. Taking advantage of the regularised spellings and grammatically tagged texts of the Enhanced Shakespearean Corpus (Culpeper 2019), this study considers the frequency, distribution and functions of pragmatic noise across Shakespeare’s plays and characters. It reveals and discusses, for example, the facts that: whilst particular types of pragmatic noise maintain a steady presence across all the plays, there is variation in token density; female characters have a much greater density of pragmatic noise tokens compared with male; and characters in the middle of the social hierarchy use pragmatic noise particularly often.