Gender, interaction and intonational variation: The discourse functions of High Rising Terminals in London
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In this paper, I examine the different conversational and interactional functions that High Rising Terminals (HRT) fulfil among young, White, middle-class speakers of London English. Data are drawn from sixteen small-group interviews with forty-two individuals (28 women and 14 men) aged 18–25. From this corpus, 7351 declarative Intonation Phrases were extracted, and auditorily coded for the presence/absence of HRT as well as for a variety of social, interactional and pragmatic factors. I combine quantitative and qualitative methods to demonstrate that while all of the speakers investigated use HRT to accomplish relational work in conversation, the specific interactional strategies that the feature is recruited to perform differ markedly across genders. I consider the ramifications of this finding for our understanding of ‘politeness’ as a gendered practice, and illustrate the importance of examining a variable like HRT in its discourse-functional context.
- Linguistics