ABSTRACT

Following the methodological example of Jenny Cheshire’s work, I employ qualitative methods to explain the variable frequency and strategic use of utterance-final tags (UFTs) across individuals, social groups and narratives in adolescent narratives extracted from the Linguistic Innovators Corpus. Specific UFT variants – yeah, innit and, to a lesser extent, right – are used by the adolescent narrators to stimulate listener involvement and guide listeners’ interpretation of tagged and non-tagged story materials. The UFTs are found most regularly in the (embedded) orientation and complicating action sequences of those male adolescent narratives that evoke story worlds of physical and social contest, criminal activity, and non-criminal misbehaviour. I propose that male adolescent narrators strategically select specific UFT variants to assert their rights to be heard and to signal their desire to be viewed as possessing an urban working-class adolescent masculinity. I also suggest that, given their association with certain story worlds and an assertive stance, the narrative UFTs used by the male adolescents (yeah, innit, right) may (come to) harness social indexical values of violence, toughness and streetwiseness.