The analysis of tag questions in a computerised corpus of child bilingual language.

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Due to the relative structural complexity of tag questions in English, much of the research published on these discourse features involves studies carried out exclusively on speakers of English (such as those by Tottie and Hoffman, 2006; Torgersen and Costas, 2009; and Moore and Podesva, 2009). Going beyond purely monolingual English discourse, the present paper examines the speech of two bilingual siblings (Brazilian/British) and analyses their use of tag questions, whether in monolingual Portuguese, monolingual English or mixed (code-switched) utterances. Recorded over 3 years, the corpus examined contains 119 recordings (approximately 24 hours), of naturalistic interactions taking place between the two main informants, a girl ‘M’ and her brother ‘J’ (aged 5 and 3 years at the beginning of data collection in 2001), and their monolingual and bilingual family relatives. Transcribed according to the CHAT system (MacWhinney, 2010), the CLAN tools (ibid) were used to retrieve both canonical and invariant tag questions from the corpus for both quantitative and qualitative analyses. After briefly detailing methodological aspects of the study including the use of the CLAN commands (FREQ, COOCCUR and KWAL) to carry out the analyses, the results will then be discussed in the light of previous research on tag questions. Macwhinney, B. (2010). The CHILDES Project, Tools for Analyzing Talk – Electronic Edition. Carnegie Mellon University. Available online: . Moore, E. & Podesva, R. (2009). Style, indexicality and the social meaning of tag questions. Language in Society, 38(4), 447-485. Torgersen, E. & Costas, G (2009) A corpus-based study of invariant tags in London English. In: Corpus Linguistics 2009, 2009-07-21 - 2009-07-23, University of Liverpool, UK. (Unpublished) Tottie, G. & Hoffman, S. (2006). Tag Questions in British and American English. Journal of English Linguistics. 34(4), 283-311.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2012
Event45th British Association for Applied Linguistics Conference - University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Sept 20128 Sept 2012


Conference45th British Association for Applied Linguistics Conference
Abbreviated titleBAAL 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • tag questions
  • corpus linguistics
  • bilingual corpora


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