A corpus-driven study of speech acts in the Hong Kong corpus of spoken English (HKCSE)

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A corpus-driven study of speech acts in the Hong Kong corpus of spoken English (HKCSE)

 

Author: Seto, Wood-hung Andy
Title: A corpus-driven study of speech acts in the Hong Kong corpus of spoken English (HKCSE)
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2016
Subject: English language -- Spoken English -- China -- Hong Kong.
Speech acts (Linguistics)
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of English
Pages: xxi, 449 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2925470
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/8722
Abstract: Since the 1960s, empirical studies of speech acts have examined specific speech acts such as requests and thanks in spoken or written language in different languages and in different contexts of communication. Most studies have examined the expressions, the patterns and the strategies of a speech act in a particular language. However, regarding research studies in different genres and in different contexts of business communication, most empirical studies have not examined speech acts. Rather, they have other areas of concern such as the structure of and the interaction in workplace meetings with regard to power and politeness. Moreover, few studies reviewed have investigated the relative frequency of a speech act and the co-occurring patterns of two or three speech acts as found in a genre in the context of business communication. In view of this, the present study aims to investigate, by means of analysis of a corpus of manually annotated speech acts, the features of all the speech acts in six different communicative contexts from a corpus of spoken business discourse. The objectives of the study are: 1. To manually annotate the business sub-corpus of the Hong Kong Corpus of Spoken English (HKCSE) (prosodic) with reference to a taxonomy of speech acts informed by previous studies and the writer's personal reflection during the iterative process of utterance-by-utterance annotation; 2. To uncover the relative frequencies of speech acts and co-occurrence of speech acts in an automated way with the aid of SpeechActConc, a corpus linguistic program; 3. To analyse and discuss the findings in order to explore the patterns and lexicogrammatical realisations of speech acts in different spoken genres in different contexts of business communication in Hong Kong; and 4. To suggest possible pedagogical implications for ESP in the context of business communication.
The findings indicate that the process of manual annotation of speech act is laborious and requires a number of revision regarding annotation criteria and outcomes. Despite the different contexts of interaction in the business sub-corpus, the quantitative data generated by SpeechActConc show that there are similarities not only in the number of and the category of unique speech acts but also in the frequency and the co-occurrence of different speech acts among the six genres. In the analysis of predictable patterns of speech acts, both the preferable adjacency pairs and the most frequent co-occurring speech acts are discussed and illustrated with examples from the corpus. Apart from predictable sequencing patterns of speech acts such as question and answer or check and confirm, it is found that there are a lot of unpredictable ones, mostly paired with fillers. In examining the lexicogrammatical patterns of speech acts, the study shows that traditional markers such as opine or inform markers are not the only linguistic realizations; phrases or clauses are common lexicogrammatical realizations to perform the speech acts. The findings of the study are further explored in relation to their contribution to ESP teaching and learning in terms of teaching and learning approaches, instructional materials, and learning tasks.

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