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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versão On-line ISSN 2224-7912
versão impressa ISSN 0041-4751


SAAL, Elvis  e  FOURIE, Annamarie. "dit en dat" ("this and that") and "al daai goed" ("all that stuff'): A corpus-linguistic study of pragmatic markers in spoken Afrikaans. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2021, vol.61, n.4-1, pp.1112-1128. ISSN 2224-7912.

Pragmatic markers are a frequent phenomenon in spoken language. However, there have been very few studies on pragmatic markers in spoken Afrikaans. Pragmatic markers act as important contextualization cues in the sense that it directs interlocutors in terms of the relevance of an utterance and enables the speaker to succinctly reveal an attitude towards the proposition of the utterance. In this study the focus is on a specific type of pragmatic marker, namely vague category markers. Vague category markers (henceforth VCMs) are a subcategory of pragmatic markers which include a multiword lexical unit or word cluster such as "and things/stuff" ("en goed") and "or something" ("of iets"). VCMs are a specific realisation of vague language. Vague language refers to language use that is intentionally vague. Although VCMs are prevalent in many languages, it has not been studied by way of corpus-linguistic methods in Afrikaans. The present study uses corpus-linguistic methods to identify, categorise and analyse vague category markers in a self-compiled spoken corpus namely the Pretoriakorpus van Omgangsafrikaans (Pretoria corpus of Colloquial Afrikaans) (henceforth PO corpus). The PO corpus consists of transcribed conversations of native Afrikaans speakers recorded in Pretoria between 2015 and 2018. The data shows that VCMs do occur frequently in spoken Afrikaans. Table 1, attached as an addendum, gives a detailed account of the various VCMs as well as their normalised frequencies in the PO corpus. The two most frequent VCMs are "en goed" ("and things/stuff) and "of iets" ("or something") and variations thereof. In the literature, a distinction is made between adjunct and disjunct VCMs. The adjunct VCMs typically start with "and" and enable the speaker to comply with Grice's maxim of quantity indicating that more could be said. Disjunct VCMs typically start with "or" and enable the speaker to comply with Grice's maxim of quality, indicating that the given information might not be completely accurate. In Afrikaans, both adjunct and disjunct VCMs are found - the adjunct form starting with "en" ("and") and the disjunct form with "of ("or"). VCMs function on textual, epistemic and sociopragmatic levels. On textual level, it acts as an anaphoric device indicating that the previous element(s) could be understood as an example of a more general set of elements thereby creating textual cohesion. On epistemic level, it can function as a hedge to soften expectations regarding the truth or accuracy of an utterance. On sociopragmatic level, it creates common ground between speaker and listener and confirms ingroup membership. In this article, the relevance theory is used as theoretical framework to describe and analyse VCMs. According to the relevance theory, communication is intentional. An utterance is relevant when it has a cognitive effect on the listener without requiring high processing. Pragmatic markers, including VCMs, are seen as ostensive stimuli that enable the listener to understand the speaker's communicative intent. Three basic forms of adjunct VCMs were identified in the corpus data: "en goed" ("and things/stuff), "en so (aan)" ("and so on") and "en alles" ("and everthything"). "En goed" has many variations (see table 1) and is the most frequentform. It has a clear textual function and refers back to vague referents - mostly physical objects, but also actions / events and abstract referents. "En so (aan)" is used specially to comply with Grice's maxim of quality by indicating that more could be said. It is often used in conjunction with more abstract categories. "En alles" is often used in situations where sensitive and emotional sentiments are shared. The most frequent disjunct VCMs in the corpus data were "of iets" ("or something"), "of wat ook al" ("or whatever") and "of so" ("or so"). "Of iets" and its variations are the most common form. It is a versatile VCM used for textual, epistemic and sociopragmatic functions. It seems to be the preferred form to use when indicating that a number should be taken as an indication rather than an accurate fact. "Of wat ook al" displays predominantly textual functions by acting as anaphoric reference to a vague referent but also indicating that the speaker has given enough information to enable the listener to fill in the missing information. "Of so" collocates rather often with vague categories of place and time but is also used for epistemic and sociopragmatic functions. The following general trends can be identified by studying the VCMs in the PO corpus. • VCMs are used to refer to vague categories. The nature of these categories differs. Some VCMs like "en goed" are predominantly used with vague categories containing concrete examples while others are more often used with abstract categories. • The reach of different VCMs differ. Some only refer to what immediately precedes them in an utterance while others refer to more general ideas or feelings emanating from the utterance. • VCMs show differing degrees of flexibility concerning their form. Some like "en goed" and "of iets" leave room for the inclusion of other words. Others, like "en alles" are fixed and do not allow any insertion of additional words. • Most of the VCMs appear at the end of an utterance or intonation segment, but some VCMs such as "of so" can also appear in the middle section. • VCMs serve textual, epistemic and/or sociopragmatic functions, but the dominant function is context specific. • Some VCMs (such as "of wat ook al") have become fillers for some speakers which might indicate an advanced state of semantic bleaching. In this case, it loses its anaphoric function and becomes a mechanism which aids with processing.

Palavras-chave : pragmatic markers; vague category markers; relevance theory; pragmatics; corpus-linguistics; hedges; vague language; quality principle; quantity principle; politeness strategies.

        · resumo em Africaner     · texto em Africaner     · Africaner ( pdf )


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