Call for Chapters: Exoticism in English tag questions: Strengthening arguments and caressing the social wheel

Dr Blasius Achiri-Taboh of the Department of Linguistics at the University of Buea, Cameroon, invites contributions to an edited collection entitled Exoticism in English tag questions: Strengthening arguments and caressing the social wheel , which will be published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Please see below for the full description and for details of how to submit.

Within the last sixty years, tag questions have attracted quite a lot of attention among scholars from a variety of perspectives, especially those concerned with the syntactics-semantic and socio-pragmatic aspects of the English language. At the beginning, studies on tag questions dealt primarily with the syntactic and semantic aspects of the latter. These include works by O’Connor (1955), Bolinger (1957), Palmer (1965), Arbini (1969), Palmer and Blandford (1969), Huddleston (1970), Langendoen (1970), Armagost (1972), Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech and Svartvik (1972), Cattell (1973), Quirk and Greenbaum (1973), Hudson (1975), Oleksy (1977), Bublitz (1979), Knowles (1980), Hintikka (1982), Culicover (1992), Kolln and Funk (1998), Huddleston and Pullum (2002), Downing and Locke (2006), Cailor (2009, 2011), Batllori and Herman (2012), Kandybowicz (2013), Holmberg (2012), Breitbath, De Clercq and Haegeman (2013), Tabua (2014), Achiri-Taboh (2015a, 2016), and Pena (2016). These works have largely been concerned with the study of tag questions within descriptive and transformational generative grammars from the perspective of rules of formation and response for the purposes of either seeking information or having information confirmed.

However, other studies soon emerged of tag questions from the point of view of sociolinguistic variations, as question tags have since started behaving more and more as discourse pragmatic markers. Works in this direction include those of Lakoff (1972; 1975), Dubois and Crouch (1975), Crosby and Nyquist (1977), Lapadat and Seesahai (1977), McMillan et al. (1977), Dines (1980), O’Barr and Atkins (1980), Cheshire (1981; 1982), Faerch and Kasper (1982), Holmes (1984; 1995), Schiffrin (1987), Algeo (1988), Cameron et al. (1989), Coates (1989), Winefield et al. (1989), Stenstrom (1994), Traugott (1995; 2012), Fraser (1996), Andersen (2001), Cheng and Warren (2001), Tottie and Hoffman (2006), Pichler (2010; 2013), Kimps, Davidse and Cornillie (2014), and Achiri-Taboh (2015b). Most of these have been concerned with the differences between men and women in the use of tag questions, and with the use of tag questions as discourse pragmatic markers on a par with particles like eh?, right?, and okay?, or to serve a variety of pragmatic functions, which include attitudinal, epistemic, and politeness functions.

In different varieties of English around the world, the need for the use of tag questions has, over time and for a variety of reasons, drawn from different local linguistic experiences and realities, either as a result of deliberate code-switching or sheer language contacts and evolution, to the extent that, today, these varieties potentially exhibit different corresponding varieties of tag question with different shades of morpho-syntactic forms, and semantic and socio-pragmatic functions. An example is the use of nàa in Cameroonian colloquial English as an invariant tag question both for seeking confirmation of positive or negative assertions and for performing different pragmatic functions (see Achiri-Taboh, 2015b). Another example is the Canadian particle eh (Avis 1957, Woods 1980) shown in Wiltschko and Heim (submitted) as a ‘confirmational’ with similar functions as an ordinary tag question. Cameroonian nàa is different from Canadian eh as a tag question in that, unlike the latter, the former is not preceded by a pause. Studies that explore the evolution of English tag questions and the use of tag questions in English from the perspective of different speech communities around the world form the scope of the book.

Aim of the book:

The aim of the book is to put together a collection of interesting original synchronic/diachronic studies – between 10 and 12 chapters (or a little more as the need may arise) – that explore the evolution of English tag questions and their usage from the outlandish standpoint, answering the big question: how are tag questions used in different English speech communities around the world (and why)? Potential authors, who are scholars that are interested in the use of tag questions in English, are therefore invited to contribute chapters that examine the nature of borrowed particles and borrowed/non-borrowed words and phrases that are used in different forms and in different varieties of English as tag questions, either for confirmatory/information-rendering or peculiar discourse-pragmatic purposes, and how ordinary English tag questions have been used in the past and now in current English. Each chapter of between 4000 to 10000 words (or more if need arises) will undergo both an editorial and one blind peer review or two. Issues to be addressed include (but are not limited to) the morpho-syntax and/or socio-pragmatics of the following:

  • Issues of agreement in tag questions: A historico-comparative perspective
  • Polarity in tag questions: English and other languages
  • Canonical tag questions and speech act variations
  • Canonical vs. invariant tag questions in English: nuances
  • Issues of intonation in English tag questions
  • Syntactic positioning of tag questions: Canonical vs. invariant tags
  • Tag questions on non-declarative anchors
  • Invariant tag questions in English: A cross-dialectal study
  • Dialectal and idiolectal differences in English tag questions
  • Purposive use of tag questions: A typological perspective
  • Borrowing and canonical/invariant tag questions
  • Tag questions and politeness strategies across varieties of English
  • Children’s use of tag questions
  • Tag question acquisition/learning and performance


Please, submit a detail abstract of 400-1000 words in two files, a word file and a pdf file to by 30th September, 2018, with at least 5 references to support your chapter proposal. The abstract should attempt to show how the chapter intends to contribute to the exposition and/or understanding of exotic ways by which the use of tag questions has evolved in different varieties of English today. Be original and innovative, reader-friendly, interesting but scholarly in both input and style.

Important dates

  • Deadline for abstract submission: 30th September, 2018
  • Abstract acceptance notification: 10th October, 2018
  • Deadline for full chapter submission: 28th February, 2019
  • Chapter acceptance notification: 30th June, 2019
  • Editorial and author revision deadline: 15th August, 2019
  • Book submission: 15th October, 2019
  • Publication: 20th December, 2019

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