Pragmatic marker use in police interviews: The case of I mean and you know (Part 1)

Magdalena Szczyrbak


Drawing on interactional approaches to comment clauses (Stenström 1994; Povolná 2010), the paper reveals the discourse functions of I mean (Part 1) and you know (Part 2) in the context of police interviews. More specifically, taking into account the socio-pragmatic setting of police-suspect interaction, it highlights the context-dependence and the multifunctionality of these markers based on data from two police interview transcripts. Thus, following the spirit of the study by Fox Tree and Schrock (2002), Part 1 of the analysis demonstrates that while the primary role of I mean is that of “forewarning upcoming adjustments” (Schiffrin 1987), the marker performs interpersonal, turn management, repairing, monitoring and organizing functions. This being the case, the study examines the potential of I meanm to modify the ongoing interaction and stresses its contribution to the coherence of the interviewees’ narratives. Attention is also drawn to the syntactic environment in which I mean occurs as well as to listener responses to I mean and I mean-introduced ideas. Finally, the discussion touches upon the issue of power relations and shows the role which I mean plays in the linguistic manifestation of power in an institutional setting.

Słowa kluczowe: comment clauses, police interview discourse, power relations, pragmatic markers

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