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Types and Application of Discourse Structure Markers

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During face-to-face interactions, interlocutors tend to show that they are interested in and following what is being said through linguistic and/or paralinguistic means. For instance, they usually use certain markers like (Mm, yeah, so, you know, really) and/or gesture, like, for instance; a head nod. Linguistically, the term Pragmatic Markers is used as an umbrella that covers a wide range of expressions that work outside the clause. Some of these markers may be used to initiate, end conversations or sometimes to change topics and start new ones. Interlocutors may also use what Fraser (2009) calls “Discourse Management Markers”, the concern of the present paper, to organize and restructure the whole discourse. In this connection, O’Keeffe et. al. (2011) maintains that “the main function of discourse markers is to organize stretches of text or discourse”.

In the last few decades, the number of studies dealing with Discourse Markers has increased rapidly. This is largely due to the fact these linguistic tools are an indispensible part of everyday conversations. They are of crucial role in achieving successful communication among interlocutors since they are used to link parts of discourse together in order to achieve coherence. In this connection, Stede and Schmitz (2000) maintain that “they do play important roles in steering the flow of the dialogue and in conveying various attitudes and expectations of the speaker”. However, there have been heated debates among scholars on “what counts and does not count as a discourse marker”. The debate even extends to the ways in which these discourse markers should be organized, the purpose they serve, their meaning and how the meaning of each should be treated. This debate could be because discourse markers are used to fulfill a wide range of functions, or it could be the case that they are used as expressive tools that reflect on the social norms and conventions.

Because of the above mentioned controversy, the present study concerns itself to shed lights only on Discourse Management Markers (henceforth, DMMs) used in face to face interactions in Jordanian Spoken Arabic. Following Fraser (2009), DMMs are one type of pragmatic markers that are responsible for the organization of the discourse. There are three sub-types of DMMs; Discourse Structure Markers, Topic Orientation Markers and Attention Markers. Each of which has its own contribution to the structure of the overall discourse.

The first sub-type is Discourse Structure Markers (DSC) that convey the contribution of the following discourse segment within the overall structure of the discourse. This goes in line with what has been claimed by O’Keeffe et. al. (2011) who suggest that this type of discourse markers is used to mark the sequence in a list. For instance, the use of expressions like: first, second, then, finally and in summary, in English. It has been noticed that this type of markers is also available in Jordanian spoken Arabic. The following example is used to illustrate: أ. شو رح ناخذ اليوم بالمحاضرة؟ Shu: raħ naxuth ilyawm bilmuħadara? What will we take in the lecture today? ب. أول إشي خلينا نحكي عن الأبحاث وبعدين الطلاب يعملوا برزنتيشن. Aw-wal ishi xallina niħki an il-abħa:th w-ba’dayn it-tullab ye’malu presentations The first thing let’s talk about the research papers, and then the students do the presentations. A closer look at this example shows that the question in (أ) is initiated to ask about things that will be discussed in the class. The participant in (ب) replies using two markers which are responsible for organizing priorities; i. e. the first, and most important, thing is talk about research papers that students should conduct. After that comes other things which are considered to be marginal according to speaker (أ) that is why he uses the marker [wba’dayn] (and then). Other Arabic expressions that fall under this type are: ( ضيف لمعلوماتك, زيد على ذلك, اخر اشي, الزبدة, وعندك كمان, ازيدك من الشعر بيت).

The second sub-type of DMMs is what Fraser (2009) calls Topic Orientation Markers. He claims that these are markers “by which the speaker’s intentions concerning the immediate future topic of the discourse can be conveyed”. Fraser found that there four basic classes of Topic Orientation Markers. These are typically used by the speaker to signal their intention in order to achieve one of the following:

  1. Return to a prior topic
  2. Add to or continue with the present topic
  3. Digress from the present topic
  4. Introduce a new topic.

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Types and Application of Discourse Structure Markers. (2020, Jun 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 28, 2021, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/types-and-application-of-discourse-structure-markers/
“Types and Application of Discourse Structure Markers.” GradesFixer, 14 Jun. 2020, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/types-and-application-of-discourse-structure-markers/
Types and Application of Discourse Structure Markers. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/types-and-application-of-discourse-structure-markers/> [Accessed 28 Jan. 2021].
Types and Application of Discourse Structure Markers [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Jun 14 [cited 2021 Jan 28]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/types-and-application-of-discourse-structure-markers/
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