Academic journal article Cross - Cultural Communication

General Extenders in Persian Discourse: Frequency and Grammatical Distribution/EXTENSION GÉNÉRALE DANS LE DISCOURS EN PERSAN: FRÉQUENCE ET DISTRIBUTION GRAMMATICALE

Academic journal article Cross - Cultural Communication

General Extenders in Persian Discourse: Frequency and Grammatical Distribution/EXTENSION GÉNÉRALE DANS LE DISCOURS EN PERSAN: FRÉQUENCE ET DISTRIBUTION GRAMMATICALE

Article excerpt


This study tries to investigate the frequency and grammatical distribution of general extenders in Persian. The analysis is based on a corpus of informal conversations. On some occasions, a comparison will also be made with the corpus of informal English compiled and analyzed by Overstreet (1999, 2005). The results of this study lay bare the fact that Persian speakers use adjunctive general extenders more frequently than disjunctive ones. It will also be demonstrated that Persian speakers use general extenders both at clause final and clause-internal positions. Finally, Persian general extenders will be examined with reference to their grammatical agreement requirements.

Keywords: Discourse marker; frequency; general extender; grammatical distribution; Persian

Resumé: Cette étude tente d'étudier la fréquence et la distribution grammaticale connues sous le nom de l'extension générale en persan d'un groupe de locuteurs. L'analyse est fondée sur un corpus de 9 heures de conversations informelles. Dans certains cas, une comparaison sera également faite avec le corpus en anglais compilé et analysée par Overstreet (1999, 2005). Les résultats de cette étude mettent à nu le fait que les locuteurs persans utilisent plus souvent les extensions générales sulbaternes que les extensions gérérales adversatives. En outre, l'analyse révèle que les locuteurs persans ne modifient pas leur extension générale avec un élément comme adverbe. Il sera également démontré que les locuteurs persans utilisent les extensions générales à la fois aux positions de clause finale et de clause interne. Enfin, les extension générales perses seront examinées en ce qui concerne leurs besoins en accord grammatical.

Mots-clés: locuteurs de discours; fréquence; extension générale;distribution grammaticale; perse

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As stated by Channell (1994), people hold many beliefs about the language they speak. The most important one is that good usage involves, inter alia, clarity and precision. Accordingly, it is believed that vagueness, imprecision, and general woolliness are to be avoided. However, as argued by Channell (1994), it is rather too simple a view, and likely to be misleading not only for those who speak a particular language as their mother tongue but also for those who are making an effort to learn a new language other than their first language.

Perhaps it was Peirce (1902), who, for the first time, introduced the notion of vagueness in linguistic studies. He was of the opinion that a proposition is vague "where there are possible states of things concerning which it is intrinsically uncertain whether, had they been contemplated by the speaker, he would have regarded them as excluded or allowed by the proposition." It is worth noting, however, that by intrinsically uncertain he does not mean uncertain in consequence of any ignorance of the interpreter, but because "the speaker's habits of language were indeterminate; so that one day he would regard the proposition as excluding, another as admitting, those states of things" (p. 748).

In keeping with the above mentioned observation, it has, for too long, been acknowledged that vague language occurs widely in language use so much so that some investigators have wished to maintain that all language use is vague in some way (see Channell, 1994; Cutting, 2007).

Since the introduction of the notion of vagueness in linguistics by Peirce in 1902, a great many number of scholars have tried to define vague language in one way or another (see Ball & Ariel, 1978; Crystal & Davy, 1975; Cutting, 2007; Deese, 1974; Wierzbicka, 1986). Even so, the most comprehensive conceptualization of vague language seems to have been provided by Channell (1994, p. 20), who contends that an expression or word is vague if:

A it can be contrasted with another word or expression which appears to render the same proposition;

B it is purposely and unabashedly vague;

C its meaning arises from the intrinsic uncertainty referred to by Peirce. …

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