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Sabine Jautz, former PhD student

PhD project: "Thanking in English. A corpus-based study on the use of expressions of gratitude across different varieties and genres"

The study is devoted to the use of thanking formulae in different genres and in different va­rieties of English. Research on thanking, politeness, variational pragmatics and media dis­course serve as theoretical background. Issues relating to gender and status are also exam­ined in an exploratory part of the study.

The data under investigation is taken from the spoken component of the British Na­tional Corpus and the Wellington Corpus of Spoken New Zealand English. Even though not (yet) tagged for speech acts or communicative functions, corpora have come to be recognised as an im­portant source of data in pragmatics research, because they provide large amounts of natu­rally occurring data, are easily searchable and can be analysed according to fre­quency, text types or demographic factors. Searching the two corpora for a list of thanking formulae re­sulted in a database of about 900 thanking formulae which were analysed quantitatively, but also qualitatively, drawing on conversation/ discourse analytic frame­works.

The empirical analysis is divided into three parts, exploring the data from different perspec­tives. In the first part, the data is analysed as a whole regarding formal realisations of thanking formulae, the functions they serve, their status in different models of politeness and also with reference to some characteristics of the speakers involved. The second part is dedi­cated to an analy­sis of the aforementioned aspects in British as compared to New Zealand English. As some of the aspects examined (e.g. a discourse-organising function of expres­sions of gratitude) be­come especially apparent in media texts such as radio phone-in conver­sations, a third per­spective is introduced, comprising an analysis of a subcorpus of data originating from media con­texts. The findings of the different parts are compared to each other and related to previ­ous research in the relevant fields.

References

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