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Abstract

This paper is about the use of back-channels in speakers of English as a second language. It is mainly focused on the use of the utterances: yeah, ok, uh huh and mhmm. The functions of back channeling signals and when can they occur will be discussed. For this study, we recorded a group of women conversing for fifteen minutes and analyzed two three-minute sections of this recording. The women in the recording represented Japan, Taiwan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. The findings suggest that the most commonly used types of back channeling were continuers and signals of acknowledgment. Our study also suggests that native language and culture do play a part in how back channeling is used. Further studies could investigate gender issues, physical back channeling signals, and how individual cultures and languages make use of back channeling.

Faculty Supervisor

Professor Emeritus Susan Ross

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