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Approaching Language Variation through Corpora

A Festschrift in Honour of Toshio Saito


Edited By Shunji Yamazaki and Robert Sigley

This book is a collection of papers using samples of real language data (corpora) to explore variation in the use of English. This collection celebrates the achievements of Toshio Saito, a pioneer in corpus linguistics within Japan and founder of the Japan Association for English Corpus Studies (JAECS).
The main aims throughout the collection are to present practical solutions for methodological and interpretational problems common in such research, and to make the research methods and issues as accessible as possible, to educate and inspire future researchers. Together, the papers represent many different dimensions of variation, including: differences in (frequency of) use under different linguistic conditions; differences between styles or registers of use; change over time; differences between regional varieties; differences between social groups; and differences in use by one individual on different occasions. The papers are grouped into four sections: studies considering methodological problems in the use of real language samples; studies describing features of language usage in different linguistic environments in modern English; studies following change over time; and case studies illustrating variation in usage for different purposes, or by different groups or individuals, in society.


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MARIA STUBBE Active Listening in Conversation: Gender and the Use of Verbal Feedback - 365


MARIA STUBBE Active Listening in Conversation: Gender and the Use of Verbal Feedback 1. Introduction1 Conversation consists of much more than alternating turns at talk: rather, it is a collaborative endeavour which requires participants to engage actively as both ‘speakers’ and ‘listeners’ in the sequential construction of an interaction. Listenership therefore involves much more than simply being a passive recipient of what the current speaker is saying: it means taking an active part in the ongoing construction of the interaction. This is empirically observable in the way listeners use a variety of verbal responses and non-verbal cues, as well as in the pragmatic use of silence and pauses, all of which can vary in frequency, distribution and intensity to fulfill a complex array of interactive, ep- istemic and social functions. Supportive verbal feedback takes many forms, ranging from brief vocalisations such as laughter, minimal responses such as mhmm and yeah and other brief expressions of overt or implicit support or agreement, through to longer sequences of various sorts, including backchannel utterances and cooperative overlaps. Verbal feedback occurs regularly and frequently in all types of conversational interac- 1 The research on which this paper is based was made possible by a grant from the New Zealand Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, and was carried out during the author’s tenure as research fellow with the School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, Victoria University of Wellington from 1996-2003. I am grateful to all those who allowed their interactions to be recorded...

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