Revisiting you know and I mean: some notes on the functions of the two pragmatic markers in contemporary spoken American English

  • Daniela Pettersson-Traba University of Santiago de Compostela


This article presents a corpus-based study of the pragmatic markers you know and I mean in contemporary spoken American English. Previous research indicates that you know and I mean are polysemous in their discourse roles, serving various functions in speech. By drawing on tokens extracted from the Corpus of Contemporary American English, the Corpus of American Soap Operas and the Corpus of Spoken, Professional American English, which include data from text types differing on the scales of formality and spontaneity, the main aims are 1) to compare the use of these two pragmatic markers and 2) to explore whether and how their behavior differs in three text types: TV and radio programs, soap operas, and White House press conferences and faculty/committee meetings. The results demonstrate that, despite overlapping in some of their functions, you know and I mean cannot be used interchangeably in discourse. Additionally, the functions of the two pragmatic markers vary significantly depending on the corpora, which is due to the particular characteristics of the speech situations in which they are used.