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The Bathroom Formula:: A corpus-based study of a speech act in American and British English
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Languages.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5613-7618
2014 (English)In: Journal of Pragmatics, ISSN 0378-2166, E-ISSN 1879-1387, Vol. 64, p. 1-16Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper is a corpus-based study of the Bathroom Formula, a speech act that refers to the phrases speakers use to express their need to leave any ongoing activity in order to go to the bathroom (e.g., I'm gonna go to the bathroom). The data were retrieved from the Longman Spoken American Corpus, the Michigan Corpus of Spoken Academic English and the spoken component of the British National Corpus. More than 80 'anchor' words and phrases found in the literature were searched for (e.g., loo, pee, wash my hands). The results show that a large majority of all instances are based on a small number of lexicalized sentence stems (1 ((SEMI-)MODAL) V to the bathroom/loo/restroom/toilet; I ((SEMI-)MODAL) (go) pee/potty). It is argued that the lack of creativity is connected to ease of comprehension and production and to speakers' wish to be unobtrusive. Apart from some lexical differences between the regional varieties (e.g., AmE bathroom and BrE loo) there was little sociolinguistic variation. The desire to be unobtrusive is also reflected in the responses to the formula: about half the tokens are not responded to at all, and the most common verbal response involves simple acknowledgements (e.g., okay).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 64, p. 1-16
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Humanities, English
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URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-32535DOI: 10.1016/j.pragma.2014.01.001ISI: 000335281100001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84894315268OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-32535DiVA, id: diva2:699498
Available from: 2014-02-27 Created: 2014-02-27 Last updated: 2018-01-11Bibliographically approved

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Levin, Magnus

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf