Schneider & Barron (2008) discuss the effect of macro-social factors such as region, ethnic background, age, social status and gender on intra-lingual pragmatic conventions, and state that, to date, they have received comparatively little attention in the study of pragmatics. This paper chooses two macro-social factors, age and gender, and focuses on how they impact on the use of response tokens in Irish English. Not only does the paper shed light on the use of variational pragmatics as a framework for corpus-based studies but it also brings together research on sociolinguistics and corpus linguistics, which has, to-date, been scarce (Baker 2010). The paper reveals the importance of avoiding the exploration of sociolinguistic variables in isolation and concludes by highlighting the importance of interdisciplinary research and the merits of fine-grained sociolinguistic investigations using small corpora.
- variational pragmatics
- response tokens