Is “Back to my Point” a Pragmatic Marker? An Inquiry into the Historical Development of some Metatextual Discourse Management Markers in English

Authors

Abstract

Discourse management markers (DMMs) that “signal a meta-comment on the structure of the discourse” (Fraser 2009) are widely attested in historical data. Most discourse management markers (e.g. and, anyway, by the way, but, now, then) meet well-known criteria for pragmatic markers such as multifunctionality, opacity, optionality, (inter)subjectivity, relatively high frequency, and shortness. However, several cited in Fraser (2009), many of them topic-orientation markers, do not (e.g. back to my original point, to return to my previous topic, if I might continue). I propose that an account of the development of DMMs make a distinction between adverbial adjuncts, conjunct adverbials, and pragmatic markers (e.g. Hasselgård 2010). By hypothesis, change may occur along the cline: adverbial adjuncts > conjunct adverbials (> DMMs). This approach accounts for gradual form-meaning shifts and is consistent with a usage perspective on language as a dynamic system grounded in usage events (Kemmer & Barlow 1999; Langacker 2008).

Keywords

diachrony, discourse management markers, discourse markers, English, pragmatic markers

References

Data bases

COCA The Corpus of Contemporary American English. 1990-2017. Compiled by Davies, Mark. Brigham Young University. https://www.english-corpora.org/coca/

DOEC Dictionary of Old English Corpus. 2009. Compiled by Healey, Antonette diPaolo, Holland, Joan, McDougall, Ian & McDougall, David, with Xiang, Xin. University of Toronto. http://www.helsinki.fi/varieng/CoRD/corpora/DOEC/index.html

EEBO Early English Books Online, 1470s to 1690s. Corpus created as part of the SAMUELS PROJECT (2014-2016). https://www.english-corpora.org/eebo/

OED Oxford English Dictionary. 2018. Oxford: Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/

References

Aijmer, Karin. 2002. English Discourse Particles. Evidence from a Corpus. Amsterdam: Benjamins. https://doi.org/10.1075/scl.10

Auer, Peter & Maschler, Yael (eds.). 2016. NU/NÅ: A Family of Discourse Markers across the Language of Europe and Beyond. Berlin: De Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110348989

Biber, Douglas, Johansson, Stig, Leech, Geoffrey, Conrad, Susan & Finegan, Edward. 1999. Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English. Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education.

Blakemore, Diane. 1987. Semantic Constraints on Relevance. Oxford: Blackwell.

Boye, Kaspar & Harder, Peter. 2012. A usage-based theory of grammatical status and grammaticalization. Language 88: 1-44. https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.2012.0020

Brinton, Laurel J. 2008. The Comment Clause in English: Syntactic Origins and Pragmatic Development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511551789

Brinton, Laurel J. 2017. The Evolution of Pragmatic Markers in English: Pathways of Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316416013

Bybee, Joan L. 2010. Language, Usage and Cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511750526

Bybee, Joan L. 2013. Usage-based theory and exemplar representations of constructions. In Hoffmann, Thomas & Trousdale, Graeme (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Construction Grammar, 49-69. New York: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195396683.013.0004

Coll, Miriam Urgelles. 2007. ‘Anyway’ a Formal Approach to the Syntax and Semantics of Discourse Markers. Unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Essex.

Croft, William. 2001. Radical Construction Grammar: Syntactic Theory in Typological Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cuenca, Maria Josep. 2015. Lexical connectives as grounding devices in political discourse. Paper presented at IPrA 14, Antwerp, Belgium.

Culpeper, Jonathan & Kytö. Merja. 2010. Early Modern English Dialogues: Spoken Interaction as Writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Defour, Tine. 2007. A Diachronic Study of the Pragmatic Markers Well and Now. Fundamental Research into Semantic Development and Grammaticalisation by Means of a Corpus Study. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Ghent University.

Ferrara, Kathleen W. 1997. Form and function of the discourse marker anyway: Implications for discourse analysis. Linguistics 35: 343-378. https://doi.org/10.1515/ling.1997.35.2.343

Fischer, Kerstin, ed. 2006. Approaches to Discourse Particles. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Fraser, Bruce. 1988. Types of English discourse markers. Acta Linguistica Hungarica 38: 19-33.

Fraser, Bruce. 1996. Pragmatic markers. Pragmatics 6: 167-190. https://doi.org/10.1075/prag.6.2.03fra

Fraser, Bruce. 2006a. Towards a theory of discourse markers. In Fischer, Kerstin (ed.). Approaches to Discourse Particles, 189-204. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Fraser, Bruce. 2006b. On the conceptual-procedural distinction. Style 40: 24-32.

Fraser, Bruce. 2009. Topic orientation markers. Journal of Pragmatics 41(5): 892-898. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2008.08.006

Goldberg, Adele E. 2006. Constructions at Work: The Nature of Generalization in Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Goldberg, Adele E. 2019. Explain Me This. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Greenbaum, Sidney. 1969. Studies in English Adverbial Usage. London: Arnold.

Halliday, M.A.K. 2004. Introduction to Functional Grammar, 3rd ed., rev. by Matthiessen, Christian. London: Edward Arnold.

Hansen, Maj-Britt Mosegaard. 2008. Particles at the Semantics/Pragmatics Interface: Synchronic and Diachronic Issues: A Study with Special Reference to the French Phasal Adverbs. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Hasselgård, Hilde. 2010. Adjunct Adverbials in English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511676253

Heine, Bernd. 2013. On discourse markers: Grammaticalization, pragmaticalization, or something else? Linguistics 51(6): 1205-1247. https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2013-0048

Kao, Justine T., Bergen, Leon & Goodman, Noah D. 2014. Formalizing the pragmatics of metaphor understanding. Proceedings of the 36th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society.

Kemmer, Suzanne & Barlow, Michael. 1999. Introduction: A usage-based conception of language. In Barlow, Michael & Kemmer, Suzanne (eds.). Usage-Based Models of Language, vii-xxviii. Stanford, CA: CSLI publications. Lakoff, George & Johnson, Mark. 1980. Metaphors we Live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Langacker, Ronald W. 2008. Cognitive Grammar: A Basic Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331967.001.0001

Langacker, Ronald W. 2012. Interactive cognition: Toward a unified account of structure, processing, and discourse. International Journal of Cognitive Linguistics 3(2): 95-125.

Lenk, Uta. 1998. Marking Discourse Coherence: Functions of Discourse Markers in Spoken English. Tübingen: Narr.

Lewis, Diana M. 2000. Some Emergent Discourse Connectives in English: Grammaticalization via Rhetorical Patterns. Unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Oxford.

Mittwoch, Anita, Huddleston, Rodney & Collins, Peter. 2002. The clause adjuncts. In Huddleston, Rodney & Pullum, Geoffrey K. The Cambridge Grammar of the English language, Chapter 8. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316423530

Pons, Salvador & Estellés, María. 2009. Expressing digression linguistically: Do digressive markers exist? Journal of Pragmatics 41: 921-936. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2008.08.011

Quirk, Randolph, Greenbaum, Sidney, Leech, Geoffrey & Svartvik, Jan. 1985. A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. London/New York: Longman.

Reddy, Michael J. 1993[1979]. The conduit metaphor: A case of frame conflict in our language about language. In Ortony, Andrew (ed.). Metaphor and Thought, 164-201. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2nd ed. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139173865.012

Schiffrin, Deborah. 1987. Discourse Markers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511611841

Schourup, Lawrence. 2016[1985]. Common Discourse Particles in English Conversation. London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315401584

Sweetser, Eve E. 1990. From Etymology to Pragmatics: Metaphorical and Cultural Aspects of Semantic Structure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511620904

Traugott, Elizabeth Closs. 2018. Rethinking the role of invited inferencing in change from the perspective of interactional texts. Open Linguistics 4(1): 19-34. https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2018-0002

Traugott, Elizabeth Closs. 2020. The development of “digressive” discourse-topic shift markers in English. Journal of Pragmatics 156: 121-135. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2019.02.002

Waltereit, Richard. 2006. The rise of discourse markers in Italian: A specific type of language change. In Fischer, Kerstin (ed.). Approaches to Discourse Particles, 61-76. Oxford: Elsevier.

Author Biography

Elizabeth Closs Traugott, Stanford University

Elizabeth Closs Traugott is Professor Emerita of Linguistics and English at Stanford 

University (B.A. in English, Oxford University 1960, Ph.D. in English Linguistics, University of California, Berkeley, 1964). She is a leading expert on historical syntax, semantics, and pragmatics, and the processes of grammaticalization and constructionalization. Her current research focuses on ways to bring construction grammar to bear on accounts of micro-changes, including the development of metatextual pragmatic markers in English.

Published

21-12-2020

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.