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ISSN : 1226-4822(Print)
ISSN : (Online)
The Sociolinguistic Journal of Korea Vol.21 No.2 pp.123-149

Yeah in NS-NNS Interaction*

Kyung-Hee Suh
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
Received: 6. 2. 2013 Revised: 7. 20. 2013 Accepted: 7. 31. 2013


This study aims to analyze the token yeah observed in Chinese learners of English. Using LINDSEI data, I discuss the functions of yeah at various positions. The token yeah/yes is found to mark boundaries of talk, such as opening and closing of topics, indicating sequences, topic continuation, and summarizing opinions. In a similar vein, yeah is also found in bracketing the repair sequences; it marks the beginning or the end of a repair sequence, which in turn indicates the resumption of the story line, which was halted due to the repair sequence. Second language learners are found to make efforts to delineate action boundaries when starting the turn, marking the coherent relation between utterances, the end of turn, or even the repair sequences. Such learners need to be assured each time and get confirmation to move on whenever they make some contribution. It stands to reason that the affirmative particle (with its affirmative meaning) is deployed by NNS to carry all these functions. As such, the use of the affirmative particle yeah may be part of L2 learners’ unique stylistic repertoire. The use of yeah in this context is not something that reveals the learner's linguistic deficiency; rather it demonstrates NNS's endeavor to participate in the social interaction as a competent member. (225)