On the relation between the prosody and discourse functions of well
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Discourse markers like well have several semantic and pragmatic interpretations depending on the context they appear in (see Svartvik 1980, Bolinger 1989, Schiffrin 1988, Jucker 1993, Müller 2004, among others). Despite the numerous studies concerning discourse markers, it remains unclear whether the interpretations of the discourse markers should be treated as independent semantic categories or if the variety of the attested interpretations could be attributed to an interaction between discourse context and prosody. In this thesis, the question of whether there is an association between the prosodic realization of the discourse marker well and its semantic-pragmatic functions in discourse is answered by analysing well in casual conversational speech from the Santa Barbara Corpus of Spoken American English in terms of eight acoustic-prosodic parameters. The pragmatic meaning of well is analysed within the unified relevance-theoretic framework proposed by Jucker (1993), which codes well as a marker of insufficiency, a face-threat mitigator, a frame and a delay device. No one-on-one association between the prosodic realizations of the discourse marker well and its semantic-pragmatic functions in discourse was found. However, two prosodic variables had a significant correlation with certain pragmatic functions. When well is not turn-initial, it is most likely to be a frame marking device, and the difference in duration between the functions of frame marking device and face-threat mitigator is significant; wells that were labelled as face-threat mitigators were longer in duration.