Hurry up baby son all the boys is finished their breakfast: A socio-pragmatic analysis of Irish settled and Traveller family discourse
Peer ReviewedHurry up baby son all the boys is finished their breakfast: A socio-pragmatic analysis of Irish settled and Traveller family discourse
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The present study utilises an integrative theoretical approach that combines variational pragmatics and community of practice to examine two corpora representing spoken language collected in the home/family environment: one from a middle class Irish family and one from a family belonging to the Irish Traveller community, an ethnic minority group. A distinguishing characteristic of the study is its corpus-based methodology that enables the identification of a number of high frequency linguistic items that are characteristic of the pragmatic systems of both families. These items include features of the referential system such as you, we, that and now and vocatives such as daddy, hun and baby son. Highlighted also is an anomalous lack of hedges, usually a prominent feature of Irish English. These items display evidence of variation, while a number of similarities are also unearthed in both families’ pragmatic practices. It is argued that the similarities between the two families’ pragmatic practices are largely due to the influence of micro-social factors such as audience, shared immediate situation or social roles. The differences are attributed to the impact of macro-social influences such as age, socio-economic status or ethnicity. The present study also highlights the dual benefits of combining small-scale corpus linguistic studies to the study of variational pragmatics and community of practice. Analysing family discourse is not without its challenges, however, it is argued that examining language in one of its most natural contexts can lead to a variety of beneficial insights that have potential ramifications far beyond the immediate discipline.