Are clefts contagious in conversation?
Calude, A. and Miller, S. (2009) Are clefts contagious in conversation? English Language and Linguistics, 13 (1). pp. 127-132. ISSN 1360-6743
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1017/S136067430800289X
It is well known that conversationalists often imitate their own body language as a sign of closeness and empathy. This study shows that in spontaneous, unplanned conversation, speakers go as far as emulating each other's grammar. The use of a family of focusing constructions (namely, the cleft), such as it was my mother who rang the other day, or what I meant to say was that he should go Thursday, was investigated in a corpus of conversation excerpts in New Zealand English. Findings show that clefting is contagious. In other words, if one speaker uses a cleft, others will be likely to do so too.
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