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


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.

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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.

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English Language & Linguistics
  • ISSN: 1360-6743
  • EISSN: 1469-4379
  • URL: /core/journals/english-language-and-linguistics
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