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Article

Discourse and Pragmatic Markers in the Romance Languages  

Eva-Maria Remberger

Discourse and pragmatic markers are functional units, universally present in human language, that deictically relate text fragments, propositions, utterances, and discourse chunks to the context of speech. They manage the interaction of the discourse participants in the speech situation and facilitate successful communication. This group of functional units includes elements as diverse as discourse and pragmatic markers in the broad sense, illocutionary markers, sentence particles, modal particles, and connectives. Romance languages, particularly the spoken varieties, exhibit all those types of elements, even modal particles, which have often been claimed to be absent in Romance. As in other languages, discourse and pragmatic markers mostly develop out of adverbs and adverbials (especially prepositional phrases), but nouns, adjectives, verbal forms, and other (parenthetical) phrases are further possible sources. One case that is peculiar to Romance is the ability to combine lexical material with the common complementizer corresponding to ‘that,’ which leads to more or less grammaticalized items that function as discourse and pragmatic markers. The wealth of data for Romance and Latin offers plenty of opportunities for the study of the diachronic evolution of discourse and pragmatic markers. In this context, the question whether discourse and pragmatic markers represent cases of grammaticalization or pragmaticalization and discoursivization remains a matter of some debate. In particular, the increased interest in linguistic interfaces in formal linguistic grammar theory has led to highly detailed investigations of the Romance left periphery, which has been shown to host all kinds of discourse-related phenomena.

Article

Pragmatic Approaches to Germanic Languages  

Karin Aijmer

Elements that have pragmatic functions are, for example, pragmatic markers, modal particles, vocatives, conversational routines (apologies, thanks), interjections, pauses, tag questions, general extenders, response forms, and comment clauses. Pragmatic markers are frequent in English and other Germanic languages. They can be analyzed based on a form-to-function approach drawing on different theoretical frameworks such as conversation analysis, interactional linguistics, or relevance theory. A pervasive change in the orientation of pragmatics has been achieved by its broadening to the study of variation. Pragmatic markers have, for example, been compared across languages regarding their position in the sentence and combinability with other pragmatic markers. Another “red thread” in the development of pragmatics in Germanic languages is the availability of spoken corpora facilitating the empirical analysis of the relationship between form, function, and context. Modal particles, interjections, and hesitation markers are regarded as subclasses of pragmatic markers that can be given a functional analysis. Modal particles are studied especially in German, where they are generally regarded as a special word class distinct from pragmatic markers. Address forms may vary across languages and varieties of languages depending on social factors and cultural preferences. Many Germanic languages (but not English) make a distinction between the informal T-pronoun of address in the singular (Swedish du; German du) and a formal plural V-form of address (Swedish ni; German sie). Politeness and speech acts are another central research area in pragmatics. Some researchers have applied a conversation analysis approach to the study of speech acts such as requests and compliments. The majority of speech act studies are based on discourse completion tests and role-plays. Corpora are less suited to analyze speech acts unless the forms are routinized. One way to solve this methodological problem is indicated by the development of schemes for pragmatically annotating speech acts in corpora.

Article

Danish  

Eva Skafte Jensen

Danish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 6 million people. Genealogically, it is related to the other Germanic languages, in particular the other North Germanic languages (Swedish, Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroese), but also, for example, German, Dutch, and English; typologically, Modern Danish is closer to Norwegian and Swedish than to any other language. Historically deriving from Proto-Germanic, Danish morphology once had three grammatical genders (the masculine, the feminine, and the neuter) and case inflection (nominative, accusative, dative, and genitive) in all nominal words; it also had inflection for mood, tense, number, and person in the verbal conjugations. In Modern Standard Danish, much of the traditional nominal and verbal inflection has disappeared. Instead, other kinds of morphosyntactic constructions and structures have emerged. Middle Danish and Modern Danish are typologically very different languages. One of the structural innovations linked to the typological change is that a syntactic subject becomes obligatory in Danish sentences. Correlated to this, Danish develops expletive constructions with det ‘it’ and der ‘there’. Another important point differentiating Middle Danish from Modern Danish concerns agreement. Traditional Indo-European agreement (verbal as well as nominal) has receded in favor of more fixed word order, both on the sentence level and internally within phrases. As part of this, Modern Danish has developed a set of definite and indefinite articles. The traditional three genders are reduced to two (common and neuter) and have developed new syntactic-semantic functions alongside the traditional lexically distributed functions. In the verbal systems, Danish makes use of two different kinds of passive voice (a periphrastic and an inflected one), which carry different meanings, and also of two different auxiliaries in perfective constructions, that is, have ‘have’ and være ‘be’, the latter doubling as an auxiliary in periphrastic passive constructions. Perfective constructions are made up by an auxiliary and the supine form of the main verb. Danish is a V2-language with a relatively fixed word order, often depicted in the form of the so-called sentence frame, a topological model designed specifically for Danish. Like most other Germanic languages, Danish has a rich set of modal particles. All these morphosyntactic features, Danish shares with Swedish and Norwegian, but the distribution is not completely identical in the three languages, something that makes the Mainland Scandinavian languages an interesting study object to the typologically interested linguist. Exclusive for Danish is the so-called stød, a suprasegmental prosodic feature, used as a distinctive feature. Modern Danish is strongly standardized with only little of the traditional dialectal variation left. From the end of the 20th century, in the larger cities, new sociolects have emerged, that is, multi-ethnolects. The new multi-ethnolects are based on a substrate of Danish with lexical features from the languages of Central Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. In addition to the lexical innovations, the multi-ethnolects are characteristic in intonation patterns different from Standard Danish, and they have morphosyntactic features different from Standard Danish, for example, in word order and in the use of gender.