Backchannels are essential for successful interaction, but are difficult to identify and quantify due to their variable forms, and the fact that the most common forms tend to be multifunctional. This chapter applies a level of abstraction to the analysis of backchannels, and focuses on their structure rather than their form or function. In doing so, it seeks to establish the factors that condition backchannel selection in British English, using a multifactorial method. The research uses corpus annotation to identify backchannel structures, before using grammatical and speaker metadata as predictors of backchannel choice. The results indicate that British English speakers strongly prefer complex structures to less complex forms. However, a high-frequency form, yeah, shared across all structural categories, suggests that regardless of the complex variation found in backchannel forms, there are typical backchannel forms in British English. The multifactorial analysis demonstrates that the most common factor predicting a deviation from the preference for complex forms is the grammatical category of the first or only unit in the backchannel. This holds for both young and old speakers, speakers in close or wider relationships, and speakers from different socio-economic backgrounds.
|Title of host publication||Corpus approaches to contemporary British speech|
|Subtitle of host publication||sociolinguistic studies of the spoken BNC2014|
|Editors||Vaclav Brezina, Robbie Love, Karin Aijmer|
|Place of Publication||London|
|Publisher||Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group|
|Number of pages||37|
|Publication status||Published - 2018|
|Name||Routledge advances in corpus linguistics|
Wong, D., & Kruger, H. (2018). Yeah, yeah yeah or yeah no that's right: a multifactorial analysis of the selection of backchannel structures in British English. In V. Brezina, R. Love, & K. Aijmer (Eds.), Corpus approaches to contemporary British speech: sociolinguistic studies of the spoken BNC2014 (pp. 120-156). (Routledge advances in corpus linguistics; Vol. 21). London : Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group.