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This paper compares the use of smallwords, such as well, sort of and a bit, in spoken corpora taken from more and less fluent Norwegian learners of English and native speakers, all aged around 14–15 years. In particular, using a framework based on Relevance Theory, it examines the effect of limited smallword use on the ability to send the signals most essential to communication. It demonstrates that a steady progression in smallword acquisition seems to accompany an advance in fluency; however, it highlights the fact that, while more fluent pupils appear to possess a ‘basic’ set of signalling smallwords, their limited repertoires deprive them of the pragmatic overtones that native speakers give to their signals, making them sound more than just a bit foreign!

From the COLT’s mouth ... and others'

Language Corpora Studies. In honour of Anna-Brita Stenström


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