The Tag Questions: Certainty versus Uncertainty Issue in English Pitches and Intonation in Relation to Anthropology

Demirezen M.

ANTHROPOLOGIST, vol.18, no.3, pp.1059-1067, 2014 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 18 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/09720073.2014.11891588
  • Journal Name: ANTHROPOLOGIST
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.1059-1067
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: No


Pitch phonemes that, contain paralinguistic meanings, are integral parts of intonation and their analysis can yield the production of social and anthropological knowledge. Tag questions represent a special case of the use of pitch phonemes. By nature, a tag question is a short question added to the end of a positive or negative statement. For such mechanical structure, this particular juncture pattern is very confusing to non-native teachers of English. The aim of this paper is to explore the perception and articulation of the 'certainty and uncertainty of the speaker'. The participants were 10 MA students from the Department of English Language Education at Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey. They were given 10 tag questions as a pre-test in order to evaluate their perceptions of the certainty or uncertainty intonationjuncture. A three-hour intensive training session was conducted on this issue, and after a two-week interval, the participants took a post-test that included 10 new tag questions. All the items in the questionnaire were expressed in near-native English intonationjuncture combinations which were downloaded from electronic dictionaries by means of the Audacity programme and then administrated to the participants. The total failure of the participants to obtain encouraging results finally led to no such exigency for the inclusion of intonation studies in the English Language Education Departments of Turkish universities.