Karin Aijmer

Professor emerita

Institutionen för språk och litteraturer
Renströmsgatan 6
41256 Göteborg
Box 200
40530 Göteborg

Om Karin Aijmer


My research is mainly concerned with pragmatics and discourse. Some of the issues I am interested in are epistemic modality/evidentiality, pragmatic markers, conversational routines and other fixed phrases. My approach to studying conversational routines (in particular conventionalised speech acts such as thanking and apologies) is to start with a particular function and to use the corpus to show how different realisations are used in different situations and for different goals. Pragmatic markers are studied with a view to how they are used in different situations and varieties of English. Research on modality, evidentiality and pragmatic markers in spoken English also make it necessary to consider the role of prosody and semantic changes both diachronically and as reflected in synchronic flexibility.
My methods are corpus-based and I use both monolingual and multilingual corpora for research. The English-Swedish Parallel Corpus (ESPC) which I have used in my research was originally compiled at the English Department in Lund and has been further developed at the English Department in Gothenburg. A parallel corpus consists of translations in two directions, e.g. between English and Swedish and vice versa. By confronting two (or more languages) we can get a fine-grained picture of similarities and differences between the compared languages. Cross-linguistic studies are valuable because they make it possible to study what is universal in language and what is language-specific. The translations into another language also mirror the meanings and functions of lexical items and constructions in another languages. They can therefore also serve to analyse and disambiguate elements with flexible or context-bound meanings such as pragmatic markers like well or you know.
Both differences and similarities between languages can influence or be reflected in how learners write or speak English. It is therefore interesting to try to link cross-linguistic studies with the analysis of data representing advanced learners’ spoken or written English in learner corpora. A learner corpus consists of electronically stored data of the English written by advanced learners. The learner corpus used to study Swedish advanced learners (SWICLE) is integrated in the International Corpus of Learner English (ICLE) and comparisons can be made with other learner groups or with native speakers of English. There is a corresponding Swedish spoken learner corpus (a component of the Louvain International Database of Spoken English Interlanguage (LINDSEI) together with spoken learner corpora collected by other learner groups). The written and spoken learner corpora can provide the data to study for example how advanced learners use pragmatic markers or modal elements differently from advanced learners. The differences are both quantitative and qualitative and can have many different explanations including transfer from the mother tongue.