Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Right-dislocated pronouns in British English: the form and functions of ProTag constructions 1

  • LOUISE MYCOCK (a1)
Abstract

Tags are widely acknowledged as being an important feature of colloquial British English. In this article, I examine a type of tag that has to date received little attention in the literature beyond sociolinguistic research into its interpersonal functions: right-dislocated lone pronouns, or ProTags. Biber et al. (1999) acknowledge that the demonstrative pronoun that can be used as a right-dislocated tag in conversational British English, but corpus data reveal that other pronouns can also be used as ProTags.

Based on a range of examples, primarily taken from large-scale corpora, I examine the form of the ProTag construction and its functions, comparing it with other tags used in British English, particularly question tags. In common with other tags, ProTags are a classic case of language conveying more than straightforward propositional content. I consider to what extent proposed analyses of the functions of tag questions carry over to ProTags, and briefly whether this construction has been a feature of British English for longer than might at first be assumed.

Copyright
Footnotes
Hide All
1

I would like to thank Xavier Bach, Ylva Berglund Prytz, David Cram, Mary Dalrymple, Louise Esher, Kerstin Hoge, Bozhil Hristov, Aditi Lahiri, Amanda Thomas, Alice Violet, Susanne Wagner and two anonymous reviewers for their time and insights.

Footnotes
References
Hide All
Algeo John. 2006. British or American English? A handbook of word and grammar patterns. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Allerton David J. 2009. Tag questions. In Rohdenburg Günther & Schlüter Julia (eds.), One language, two grammars? Differences between British and American English, 306–23. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Axelsson Karin. 2011. Tag questions in fiction dialogue. PhD thesis, University of Gothenburg.
Barron Anne, Pandarova Irina & Muderack Karoline. 2015. Tag questions across Irish English and British English: A corpus analysis of form and function. Multilingua 34, 495525.
Biber Douglas, Johansson Stig, Leech Geoffrey, Conrad Susan & Finegan Edward. 1999. Longman grammar of spoken and written English. Harlow: Longman.
BNC: British National Corpus, version 3 (BNC XML edition). 2007. Distributed by Oxford University Computing Services on behalf of the BNC Consortium. www.natcorp.ox.ac.uk (accessed 9 April 2016).
Brinton Laurel J. 2008. The comment clause in English: Syntactic origins and pragmatic development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Corrigan Karen P., Buchstaller Isabelle, Mearns Adam & Moisl Hermann. 2012–. The Diachronic Electronic Corpus of Tyneside English (DECTE). Newcastle University. http://research.ncl.ac.uk/decte (accessed 10 January 2017).
Corver Norbert. 2008. Uniformity and diversity in the syntax of evaluative vocatives. Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics 11, 4393.
DarthDimi. 2011, May. Re: What Moonraker should have been like [online forum comment]. Retrieved from www.mi6community.com/index.php?p=/discussion/849/what-moonraker-should-have-been-like/p1 (accessed 30 August 2016).
Davies Gareth A. 2015. Anthony Crolla enjoys the light after ‘dark days’ of recovering from skull fractured by concrete slab. The Telegraph. Retrieved from www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/boxing/12044832/Anthony-Crolla-enjoys-the-light-after-dark-days-of-recovering-from-skull-fractured-by-concrete-slab.html (accessed 6 March 2017)
Davies Mark. 2013. Corpus of Global Web-Based English (GloWbE): 1.9 billion words from speakers in 20 countries. corpus.byu.edu/glowbe/ (accessed 22 August 2016)
Davies Mark. 2016–. News on the Web (NOW) Corpus: >3 billion words from online newspaper websites in 20 countries. corpus.byu.edu/now/ (accessed 22 August 2016)
Denison David. 1996. The case of the unmarked pronoun. In Britton Derek (ed.), English historical linguistics 1994: Papers from the 8th International Conference on English Historical Linguistics, 287–99. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Durham Mercedes. 2011. Right dislocation in Northern England: Frequency and use – perception meets reality. English World-Wide 32, 257–79.
First Direct. 2013. Unexpected bank – Platypus. Television advertisement.
Fretheim Thorstein. 2001. The interaction of right-dislocated pronominals and intonational phrasing in Norwegian. In van Dommelen Wim & Fretheim Thorstein (eds.), Nordic Prosody: Proceedings of the VIIIth Conference, 6176. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
Fyne Jon. 2005. The dialect of New Mills: Linguistic change in a north-west Derbyshire community. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.
Holmes Janet. 1982. The function of tag questions. English Language Research Journal 3, 4065.
Hristov Bozhil P. 2013. Pronominal case assignment in English. Journal of Linguistics 49, 567611.
Huddleston Rodney & Pullum Geoffrey K.. 2002. The Cambridge grammar of the English language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Jonson Ben. 1600. Every man out of his humour . In Schelling Felix E. [1910], The complete plays of Ben Jonson. London: J. M. Dent and Sons. Project Gutenberg, www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3695
Jonson Ben. 1616. Epicoene; or, the silent woman . In Schelling Felix E. [1910], The complete plays of Ben Jonson. London: J. M. Dent and Sons. Project Gutenberg, www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/4011
Kaltenböck Gunther. 2008. Prosody and function of English comment clauses. Folia Linguistica 42, 83134.
Keenan Edward L. & Comrie Bernard. 1977. Noun phrase accessibility and universal grammar. Linguistic Inquiry 8, 6399.
Kimps Ditte, Davidse Kristin & Cornillie Bert. 2014. A speech function analysis of tag questions in British English spontaneous dialogue. Journal of Pragmatics 66, 6485.
Lambrecht Knud. 2001. Dislocation. In Haspelmath Martin, König Ekkehard, Oesterreicher Wulf & Raible Wolfgang (eds.), Language typology and language universals, vol. 2: 1050–78. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
McGregor William. 1995. The English ‘tag question’: A new analysis, is(n't) it? In Hasan Ruqaiya & Fries Peter H. (eds.), On subject and theme: A discourse functional perspective, 91121. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Moore Emma & Snell Julia. 2011. ‘Oh, they're top, them’: Right dislocated tags and interactional stance. In Gregersen Frans, Parrott Jeffrey K. & Quist Pia (eds.), Language variation – European perspectives III, 97109. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Norrick Neal R. 2003. Issues in conversational joking. Journal of Pragmatics 35, 1333–59.
Pichler Heike. 2013. The structure of discourse–pragmatic variation. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Quinn Heidi. 2005. The distribution of pronoun case forms in English. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Quirk Randolph, Greenbaum Sidney, Leech Geoffrey & Svartvik Jan. 1985. A comprehensive grammar of the English language. Abingdon: Longman.
Shorrocks Graham. 1999. A grammar of the dialect of the Bolton area, part II: Morphology and syntax. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
Snell Julia. 2008. Pronouns, dialect and discourse: A socio-pragmatic account of children's language in Teesside. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.
Tallerman Maggie. 2015. Understanding syntax. London: Routledge.
Tottie Gunnel & Hoffmann Sebastian. 2006. Tag questions in British and American English. Journal of English Linguistics 34, 283311.
Tottie Gunnel & Hoffmann Sebastian. 2009. Tag questions in English: The first century. Journal of English Linguistics 37, 130–61.
Visser Frederik T. 1963. An historical syntax of the English language, part 1: Syntactical units with one verb. Leiden: E. J. Brill.
Wagner Susanne. 2016. Never saw one – first person singular null subjects in spoken English. English Language and Linguistics. Published online ahead of print. doi:10.1017/S1360674316000216.
Ward Gregory & Birner Betty J.. 1996. On the discourse function of rightward movement in English. In Goldberg Adele (ed.), Conceptual structure, discourse and language, 463–79. Stanford, CA: CLSI.
Zwicky Arnold M. & Pullum Geoffrey K.. 1983. Deleting named morphemes. Lingua 59, 155–75.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

English Language & Linguistics
  • ISSN: 1360-6743
  • EISSN: 1469-4379
  • URL: /core/journals/english-language-and-linguistics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 3
Total number of PDF views: 16 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 235 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 29th August 2017 - 18th January 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.