Pragmatic Aspects of Mægær (‘unless’/’but’) as a Discourse Marker in Persian

Document Type : Research Paper

Authors

1 Ph.D. Candidate in General Linguistics, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran.

2 Professor of General Linguistics, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran.

3 Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran.

4 Associate Professor General Linguistics, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran.

Abstract

Discourse marker is a functional-pragmatic category, not affecting truth conditions of the sentence. These linguistic elements encode procedural rather than representative or propositional meanings. Discourse markers have been the subject of increasing attention in recent years, and have been investigated in different theoretical frameworks. Among the vast variety of approaches toward interpreting the role of discourse markers, one major approach is rooted in Grice's suggestion. By elaborating the concept of conventional implicature along the previously well-known concept of conversational implicature, Grice (1989) treats some discourse markers as being instances of the former. He also conceptualized the concept of non-central or higher-level speech acts to account for the contribution of these discourse markers to the meaning of their host sentence. In this article, we will initially describe the characteristics of the discourse marker "magar" (‘unless’/’but’) in terms of prototypical characteristics of discourse markers proposed by Brinton (1996) and Heine (2013). We then present a diachronic exposition of its semantic development from having a propositional meaning to a word with a textual and expressive function in contemporary Persian. This explanation is in accordance with Traugott’s (1986) analysis of semantic change toward more subjectification. Ultimately, we have applied a Gricean interpretation to this Persian discourse marker, as a higher-level speech act. It is argued that "magar" (‘unless’/’but), in addition to its function as a connective element (which connects two textual units or encrypts the connection between the propositional content of an utterance and its previous context), can help with the performance of a non-central speech act with the illocutionary force of indicating opposition. Given the fact that speech acts, in Searl's terms, are the subject of the quadruple felicity conditions, namely Preparatory, Sincerity, Propositional content and Essential conditions we have shown how these conditions can be actualized (or applied) when it comes to higher-level speech acts.

Keywords


Aijmer, K. 2013. Understanding pragmatic markers. Edinburgh University
       Press.
Austin, J. L. 1962. How to do things with words. Oxford university press
Bach, K., & Harnish, R. M. 1979. Linguistic communication and speech acts.
      MIT Press. ‏
Blakemore, D. 1987. Semantic constraints on relevance. Oxford: Blackwell.
Blakemore, D. 1992. Understanding utterances. Oxford: Blackwell.‏
Blakemore, D. 2002. Relevance and linguistic meaning: The semantics and 
      pragmatics of discourse markers
(Vol. 99). Cambridge: Cambridge university
     press.‏
Blakemore, D. 2006. Discourse markers. The handbook of pragmatics, 221-240.
Bordería, S. P. 2006. A functional approach to the study of discourse
       markers. Approaches to discourse particles, 77-100.
Brinton, L. J. 1996. Pragmatic markers in English: Grammaticalization and
      
discourse functions (Vol. 19). Walter de Gruyter.
Foolen, Ad, 1991. Polyfunctionality and the semantics of adversative 
       conjunctions
. Multilingua 10 (1/2), 79–92.
Fraser, B. 1996. Pragmatic markers. Pragmatics6(2), 167-190.‏
Geis, M. L. (1995). Speech Acts and Conversational Interaction. Cambridge: 
       Cambridge University Press, 40 West 20th St., New York, NY 10011-4211..‏
Grice, H. P. 1975. " Logic and conversation" In Cole, P., and Morgan,
       J.(Eds.). Syntax & Semantics3.
Grice, H. P.1989. Studies in the Way of Words. Harvard University Press.
Hansen, Maj-Britt Mosegaard. 1998. The function of discourse particle: A study 
       with special reference to spoken Standard French. Amsterdam &
       Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Heine, B. 2013. On discourse markers: Grammaticalization, pragmaticalization, 
       or something else?. Linguistics51(6), 1205-1247.‏
Heine, B. 2018. Are there two different ways of approaching 
       grammaticalization?. New Trends on Grammaticalization and Language                
       Change. Amsterdam, Philadelpha: Benjamins, 23-54.‏
Hopper, P. J., & Traugott, E. C. 2003. Grammaticalization. Cambridge University
       Press.‏
Ifantidou, E. 2001. Evidentials and relevance (Vol. 86). John Benjamins
       Publishing.
Izutsu, M. N. 2008. Contrast, concessive, and corrective: Toward a
      comprehensive study of opposition relations. Journal of Pragmatics40(4),
      646-675.‏
Jucker, A. H., & Ziv, Y. (Eds.). 1998. Discourse markers: Descriptions and
       theory
 (Vol. 57). John Benjamins Publishing.
König, E. (1986). Conditionals, concessive conditionals and concessives: Areas
      of contrast, overlap and neutralization. On conditionals229246.‏ Cambridge:
        Cambridge University Press.
Lakoff, R. 1971. If's, and's and but's about conjunction.‏ In: Fillmore, C.J.,
       Langendoen, D.T. (Eds.), Studies in Linguistic Semantics. Holt, Rinehart
       and Winston, New York, pp. 114–149
Levinson, S. C. 1983. Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
Partridge, E. (2006). Origins: A short etymological dictionary of modern English.
       Routledge.
Redeker, G. 2006. Discourse markers as attentional cues at discourse 
       transitions. Approaches to discourse particles1.‏
Schourup, L. 1999. Discourse markers. Lingua107(3-4), 227-265.
Searle, J. R., & Searle, J. R. 1969. Speech acts: An essay in the philosophy of 
       language
 (Vol. 626). Cambridge: Cambridge university press.‏
Searle, J. R. 1975. Indirect speech acts. In Speech acts (pp. 59-82). Brill.‏
Traugott, E. C. 1982. From propositional to textual and expressive meanings:
      Some semantic-pragmatic aspects of grammaticalization. Perspectives on
     
historical linguistics, 245-271.‏
Volume 12, Issue 2
December 2022
Pages 123-146
  • Receive Date: 04 May 2021
  • Revise Date: 02 October 2021
  • Accept Date: 06 October 2021
  • First Publish Date: 06 October 2021