Does Speaker Role Affect the Choice of Epistemic Adverbials in L2 Speech? Evidence from the Trinity Lancaster Corpus

Part of the Yearbook of Corpus Linguistics and Pragmatics book series (YCLP, volume 3)


This study investigates stance-taking strategies in a context of an examination of spoken English. The focus of the research is on the interaction between the candidates (advanced L2 speakers) and the examiners (L1 speakers of English). In particular, the study explores the use of epistemic adverbial markers such as ‘maybe’, ‘certainly’ and ‘surely’. These markers are used not only to express speakers’ position (certainty or uncertainty) towards a statement, but also to express speakers’ position towards other interlocutors (e.g. to manage interpersonal relationships or to downplay strong assertions). The study is based on the advanced subsection of the Trinity Lancaster Corpus of spoken L2 production which currently contains approximately 0.45M words based on four speaking tasks: one mostly monologic task and three highly interactive tasks. The study compares the expression of epistemic stance by both the candidates and examiners and explains the differences between speakers’ performance in terms of different speaker roles assumed by the candidates and examiners in three dialogic tasks. The study stresses the importance of looking at the contextual factors of speakers’ pragmatic choices and demonstrates that when studying L2 spoken production it is important to go beyond characterising the speakers as ‘native’ or ‘non-native’ speakers of a language. Whereas the fact of being a ‘native user’ or a ‘non-native user’ can indeed be part of the speaker role and speaker identity, other equally important factors arising from the context of the exchange may play a role in speakers’ stance-taking choices.


Epistemic stance L2 pragmatics L2 spoken production Speaker roles Learner corpus 



The research presented in this chapter was supported by the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science, ESRC grant reference ES/K002155/1.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social ScienceLancaster UniversityLancasterUK

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