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Title:Discourse Markers of clarification and causality in Maghrebi and Egyptian dialects: a socio-pragmatic perspective
Author(s):Bidaoui, Abdelaadim
Director of Research:Terkourafi, Marina
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Terkourafi, Marina
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Benmamoun, Elabbas; Escobar, Anna Maria; Fagyal, Zsuzsanna
Department / Program:Linguistics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Discourse Markers
Pragmatic variation
Abstract:Discourse Markers (DMs) have traditionally been viewed as elements which do not contribute to the truth-conditional meaning of an utterance or to its syntactic and semantic make-up. Contrary to those linguists who found the study of DMs marginal, other researchers have been interested in the study of these expressions. Using a Relevance Theoretic framework (Sperber and Wilson, 1986, 1995; Blakemore, 1987), this dissertation posits that DMs signal pragmatic inferences that are performed by the addressee. Specifically, I argue that the notion of procedural meaning, a set of instructions which guides the inferential phase of utterance interpretation, offered by Relevance Theory (Sperber and Wilson, 1995; Blakemore, 2002) should be at the core of utterance interpretation in general and interpretation of DMs in particular. This dissertation is based on two complementary studies: the main and supplementary study. The main study consists of data collected during face-to-face interactions, while the supplementary study consists of online data taken from the news outlet Al Jazeera. The partcipants in the main study are members of an Arabic diasporic community in the U.S. and represent three dialects of Arabic: Moroccan, Algerian, and Egyptian dialect. The data from Al Jazeera is based on interviews with three participants representing the three dialects under study in this dissertation. While the main study is intended to give us an idea about how the meanings of clarification and causality are expressed in language use by speakers of Arabic in diaspora, the supplementary study is meant to shed light on the social meaning of the variants that are selected in a formal setting. The results show how the meanings of clarification and causality as pragmatic variables (Terkourafi, 2011) are realized by means of different pragmatic variants. For the main study, clarification is expressed by yaʕni, zəʕma, ça veut dire, c'est-à-dire, je veux dire, and I mean, while causality is expressed by liʔanna, liʔannu, ħit, laħqaʃ, ʕaʃan, parce que, and because. The realization of the DMs is shaped by nationality, education, type of interaction, and by individual choices. For the Al Jazeera results, one DM was selected for each meaning, yaʕni for clarification and liʔanna for causality. At the theoretical level, the above findings contribute to our understanding of the Arabic linguistic situation and call for a need to extend Auer’s (2005) model to spoken Arabic. The findings also provide evidence that forms may become standard due to social consensus, as in the case of ya’ni, and not only due to their origin in standard Arabic. Furthermore, the findings highlight the need to study variation not only in the light of the correlation of the linguistic behavior with broad social categories such as nationality but also in light of socio-psychological choices made by the individual (Le Page and Tabouret-Keller, 1985). Another contribution lies in foregrounding the possibility of extending variation from phonetics/morphology to pragmatics. Instead of semantic and truth-conditional equivalence as a precondition for identifying linguistic variants as proposed by Labov (1966a, 1972), this dissertation provides evidence that “linguistic variants are considered equivalent if they can be used interchangeably in order to achieve similar perlocutionary effects in discourse” (Terkourafi, 2011, p. 355).
Issue Date:2015-04-22
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Joan Smith
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-07-22
Date Deposited:May 2015

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