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Knight, Dawn
Languages: English
Types: Unknown
Current methodologies in corpus linguistics have revolutionised the way we look at language. They allow us to make objective observations about written and spoken language in use. However, most corpora are limited in scope because they are unable to capture language and communication beyond the word. This is problematic given that interaction is in fact multi-modal, as meaning is constructed through the interplay of text, gesture and prosody; a combination of verbal and non-verbal characteristics. This thesis outlines, then utilises, a multi-modal approach to corpus linguistics, and examines how such can be used to facilitate our explorations of backchanneling phenomena in conversation, such as gestural and verbal signals of active listenership. Backchannels have been seen as being highly conventionalised, they differ considerably in form, function, interlocutor and location (in context and co-text). Therefore their relevance at any given time in a given conversation is highly conditional. The thesis provides an in-depth investigation of the use of, and the relationship between, spoken and non-verbal forms of this behaviour, focusing on a particular sub-set of gestural forms: head nods. This investigation is undertaken by analysing the patterned use of specific forms and functions of backchannels within and across sentence boundaries, as evidenced in a five-hour sub-corpus of dyadic multi-modal conversational episodes, taken from the Nottingham Multi-Modal Corpus (NMMC). The results from this investigation reveal 22 key findings regarding the collaborative and cooperative nature of backchannels, which function to both support and extend what is already known about such behaviours. Using these findings, the thesis presents an adapted pragmatic-functional linguistic coding matrix for the classification and examination of backchanneling phenomena. This fuses the different, dynamic properties of spoken and non-verbal forms of this behaviour into a single, integrated conceptual model, in order to provide the foundations, a theoretical point-of-entry, for future research of this nature.
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