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A Study on Pragmatic Functions of Discourse Markers

Author: ChenLiXia
Tutor: LiFaGen
School: Jiangxi Normal University
Course: English Language and Literature
Keywords: discourse markers pragmatic functions metapragmatic awareness linguistic adaptation theory
CLC: H030
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2007
Downloads: 711
Quote: 3
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Executive Summary

Discourse markers are so pervasively used in daily language that the proper use and interpretation of them contain a considerable part of pragmatic or communicative competence.The study of this linguistic phenomena thus bears both theoretic and practical significance.Scholars, whether in syntax, semantics or pragmatics, tend to regard discourse markers as a linguistic phenomenon mostly appearing in conversational discourse and serving certain pragmatic functions.Researches on discourse markers are far from being thorough and complete. The term discourse markers has different meanings for diffenrent groups of researchers, there is no agreement about what elements in a particular language should be referred to as discourse markers, and studies on discourse markers have been done under a variety of overlapping labels. The present research, conducts a general survey into the existing pragmatic perspectives on discourse markers and tentatively employs Verschueren’s theory of linguistic adaptation to account for discourse markers, aiming at some findings which can shed light on further researches pursuing a comprehensive and thorough account of discourse markers.The present thesis consists of five chapters, with the introduction as chapter one. In the part of introduction,a general overview of DMs is presented.In chapter two, on the basis of a survey into the earlier attempts to define discourse markers, the present study, taking into account of their commonly cited features, sets forth a working definition of discourse markers, which, having a wider coverage of the expressions that have been treated as discourse markers by different scholars, enables the research to deal with a variety of elements under the same conceptual umbrella. In the process of examing the working definition of DMs, the coherence-theoretic approach , the grammatical/sytactic-pragmatic approach, and the cognitive-pragmatic approach are discussed.Chapter three investigates the researches on discourse markers conducted from the cognitive-pragmative perspective, which is based on a relevance-theoretic framework. It is concluded that these researched do give an impressive account for the role of discourse markers in utterance interpretation in terms of the motivations of cognitive constraints, contextual or cognitive effects, but fail to offer satisfactory account for why discourse markers are used and how they work in utterance prodution as well as in utterance interpretation, due to their overemphasis on the cognitive motivation for the use of discourse markers.Chapter four deals with Verschueren’s (1999) account of discourse markers.Dealing with discourse markers as indicators of metapragmatic awareness, Verschueren’s account emphasizes the function of discourse markers in signaling the speaker’s mental state in making linguistic choices. It is believed that, although Verschueren himself does not attempt to give a comprehensive account for discourse markers, his theory of linguistic adaptation, which treats language use as continuous linguistic choice making, does have the potential to provide one.Chapter five is the concluding remarks..The theoretical and practical implications, and the limitations of the present research as well as suggestions for further research are talked about in this chapter.

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CLC: > Language, writing > Linguistics > Semantics,pragmatics,lexicology, meaning school > Semantics, pragmatics
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