Evidentiality across age and gender: a corpus-based study of variation in spoken British English

  • Erika Berglind Söderqvist
Keywords: Evidentiality, corpus linguistics, pragmatics, sociolinguistics


Abstract – This paper investigates the effects of age and gender on the frequency of the evidentiality categories ‘sensory’, ‘hearsay’ and ‘inferential’ in spontaneous spoken British English. The findings from the main data sample from the British National Corpus (BNC) are also compared to patterns in a smaller data set from the Diachronic Corpus of Present-day Spoken English (DCPSE) in order to estimate the relative effects of age-grading versus historical change. The results confirm statistically significant differences between men and women in their use of evidentiality, but show no significant effect of age or the interaction of age and gender. The comparison of the findings from the BNC data and the DCPSE data suggests that age-related patterns in evidentiality use are more diachronically stable than gender-related patterns.

Author Biography

Erika Berglind Söderqvist
Uppsala University / Sweden