“You Know, It’s Like Everywhere. Nothing’s Doing what it’s Supposed to Anymore” : A Corpus-based Study on Sociolinguistic Distribution of the Discourse Markers Like and You Know
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Discourse markers are sometimes socially stigmatized by people, and researchers conducting corpus-based studies report contradictory results about sociolinguistic distribution of such items. This study focuses on the two discourse markers likeand you knowand comparisons of distribution of these discourse markers among men and women, and among people of higher and lower education have been conducted. The study uses American speakers aged 20-59 to answer the two following questions: (1) can social differences regarding frequency of employing DMs be detected? and (2) do different social classes use discourse markers for different purposes? Mixed methods were employed to answer the questions. The qualitative part of the study aimed to identify functions which the two discourse markers serve in order to answer whether there are differences regarding how social classes use likeand you know. It was found that likecan be used for signaling an upcoming approximation, introducing one of several examples, drawing focus to particular elements in the discourse that are of importance, and for signaling an upcoming quote. You knowcan be used for introducing previous knowledge as background information to an upcoming main point, reassuring the addressee of the validity or the speaker’s conviction of what s/he says. You know can also be used when a message has been unclearly delivered where the token either signals that the speaker transitions into an elaboration, or where the speaker gives the addressee an opportunity to ask the speaker for an elaboration. Lastly, you knowcould be used when the speaker wishes to go back and repair part of the discourse. It was found that neither men compared to women, nor people of higher education compared to people of lower education use the two discourse markers for different purposes. Like was not used with significantly different frequencies neither when comparing gender nor educational level. Men and women did not differ in how frequently they employed you know, but it was found thatpeople of lower education use you knowsignificantly more than people of higher education.
Master's thesis English EN501 - University of Agder 2019