Pragmatic and Conversational Functions of Tag Questions in Turkish: Comparison between Natural Speech and Classroom Setting
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Involving an anchor and a tag, tag questions serve as pragmatic tools in a language. Apart from their syntactic features, in a more general sense, in natural speech speakers take advantage of their pragmatic properties to convey the intended meaning. The aim of this study is to develop a comprehensive description of tag questions and a classification of their conversational functions based on a dataset. These functions have been provided both qualitatively and quantitatively in the course of the study. This study also aims at investigating the use of tag questions in a different conversational setting in which asymmetric relationship between speakers is apparent. Hence, the effect of setting and speaker status (asymmetric relationship) which are major sociolinguistic variables, can be discussed to find out what kind of effect they have on the use of tag questions in Turkish. To this aim, classroom speech where status and asymmetry between speakers are clear, has been analysed. Another aim of the current study is to explore how different functions of tag questions construct turn-yielding in conversations according to the position of tag questions in the sentence. Turn in conversation is about who is speaking in a conversation. When somebody gives the turn to another speaker by stopping talking, the turn changes. These turn changes have been examined in this study to find out whether they are done with the help of tag questions or not. To this end, TQs have been identified in the conversations which have been extracted from METU Spoken Corpus and recordings done by the researchers. These tag questions have been classified according to their pragmatic functions. After the classification of tag questions in natural speech, the functions of tag questions which have been found in the conversations recorded in a private language academy in Ankara have been identified by considering asymmetric relationship between teacher and student. Lastly, in natural speech and classroom discourse, the turn features of tag questions have been identified. In Turkish natural speech, eight functions of tag questions two of which are different from the functions that have been specified in other languages, have been found. In classroom discourse, six functions two of which are totally different from Turkish natural speech have been observed due to asymmetric relationship between teacher and student. Majority of tag questions in Turkish natural speech give the turn to other speakers in a conversation. Likewise, some tag questions which give the turn to other speakers have been observed in classroom discourse. Between the turn features of TQs and pragmatic functions of TQs, a direct relationship has been observed.