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Volume 51, Issue 6 (Nov 2013)


On discourse markers: Grammaticalization, pragmaticalization, or something else?

Bernd Heine
  • Corresponding author
  • Institut für Afrikanistik, Universität zu Köln, Meister-Ekkehart-Str. 7, 50923 Köln, Deutschland
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Published Online: 2013-11-12 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2013-0048


Discourse markers have been the subject of a considerable body of recent research. Most commonly, their genesis and development was described in terms of grammaticalization. But there were also alternative approaches to deal with their development, and the term pragmaticalization was proposed to account for features of discourse markers that pose a problem to grammaticalization theory.

In the present paper it is argued that neither grammaticalization nor pragmaticalization are entirely satisfactory in the understanding of the nature of discourse markers. On the basis of recent work on Discourse Grammar (Kaltenböck et al. 2011; Heine et al. 2012) it is argued that the rise of discourse markers involves an operation called cooptation, whereby information units such as clauses, phrases, or words are transferred from the domain of sentence grammar to that of discourse organization.

Keywords: cooptation; discourse marker; grammaticalization; pragmaticalization; thetical

About the article

Published Online: 2013-11-12

Published in Print: 2013-11-15

Citation Information: Linguistics, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2013-0048. Export Citation

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