Non-minimal response tokens in English and Russian professional discourse: A comparative study
Non-minimal response tokens (NMRTs, e.g. great, absolutely) and their functions in turn-initial position have been discussed in relation to everyday English conversation. In this paper, we look at the occurrence of NMRTs in business and professional contexts, using English and Russian corpora of spoken discourse. We investigate cases where the NMRT constitutes the sole item in the speaking turn, where it is accompanied by an item or items of a similar type or is prefaced or modified, and where it prefaces a longer turn. We examine the distribution and functions of a selection of NMRTs in the two datasets, consider issues of comparability of the two corpora and of the NMRTs, and conclude on what NMRTs might point to about the characteristic linguistic repertoires of different professional cultures. The paper summarises the three key points drawn from the comparative study: a comparatively low percentage of Russian items used as single-word turns; a contrast in the most frequently encountered single-word turns; and general orientation towards positive assessment of the interlocutor in both languages. The corresponding inferences regarding English and Russian professional cultures and prevailing linguistic repertoires are made in light of the said three points.