Academic journal article International Journal of English Studies

JUST Revisited: Panchronic and Contrastive Insights

Academic journal article International Journal of English Studies

JUST Revisited: Panchronic and Contrastive Insights

Article excerpt


Contrastive studies of cognate pragmatic markers involving modality have become increasingly salient in recent times. In describing semantic and discursive differences in different languages and language families, these studies are paving the way for a better understanding of grammaticalization, pragmaticalization and (inter)subjectification paths. The present paper aims at contributing to the discussion by means of providing a synchronic and diachronic account of the marker JUST that combines semasiological and onomasiological insights. As thoroughly described in previous studies, JUST is a complex polycentric category in which overlapping nuances have been activated over time. In English and in other languages, the diachronic evolution of JUST involves an increasing semantic expansion from scalar to subjectified meanings and an increasing restriction in grammatical flexibility. However, polysemization and the emergence of grammaticalized readings seem to have gone further in English than in other languages. The present study, situated within the emerging field of panchronic cross-linguistic research on discourse markers, aims at ascertaining why.

KEYWORDS: pragmatic markers, grammaticalization, semasiology, onomasiology, panchronic, cross-linguistic, JUST.


El estudio contrastivo de los marcadores pragmáticos de modalidad ocupa una posición central en el campo de la gramaticalización, la pragmaticalización y la (inter)subjetivización, ya que permite trazar rutas de cambio a través de la descripción de peculiaridades semánticas y discursivas en distintas lenguas y familias lingüísticas. Este trabajo contribuye al debate ofreciendo un análisis semasiológico y onomasiológico del marcador JUST en sincronía y diacronía. Se trata de una categoría policéntrica en la que se han ido activando lecturas cruzadas a lo largo del tiempo. Su evolución está marcada, tanto en inglés como en otras lenguas, por una expansión semántica cada vez mayor, transitando desde lecturas escalares hacia lecturas subjetivizadas, y por una flexibilidad gramatical cada vez menor. No obstante, la polisemización y la gramaticalización parecen haber llegado más allá en inglés que en otras lenguas. Este trabajo, situado en el campo emergente de la investigación pancrónica y translingüística de los marcadores discursivos, pretende explicar la razón.

PALABRAS CLAVE: marcadores pragmáticos, gramaticalización, semasiología, onomasiología, pancronía, translingüístico, JUST.


Over the last two decades, discourse markers have become a distinct field of linguistic enquiry (Abraham, 1991; Aijmer, 2002; Aijmer & Simon-Vandenbergen, 2003, 2004, 2006; Athanasiadou, Canakis & Cornilie, 2006; Blakemore, 2002; Brinton, 1996; Fischer, 2000, 2006; González, 2004; Jucker & Ziv, 1998; König, 1991; Lenk, 1998; Martín-Zorraquino & Montolío, 1998; Mosegaard Hansen, 1998; Pons, 2008; Portolés, 2001; Schiffrin, 1987; Siepmann, 2005; Sweetser, 1990; Traugott & Dasher, 2002) in which several phenomena coexist, as evidenced by the lack of agreement on the classification and naming of these elements. The particle JUST belongs to a broad set of -mostly oral- pragmatic markers (according to Aijmer, 2002:153, in the rank-list of the most frequent words in the London-Lund Corpus, JUST occupies rank 54, placing it among the most frequent words in the spoken language, while it is not among the most frequent 100 written words in either the LOB Corpus or the Brown Corpus) that serve interpersonal functions (in this case, the expression of speaker's involvement, stance or affect), as opposed to canonical discourse markers, that signal textual relations between clauses. However, the distinction between both sets is not clear-cut, since the textual and interpersonal function can co-occur in the same discourse, and the prevalence of one function over the other is a matter of prototypicality that springs from the potential meanings of the particle (Aijmer, 2002:39). …

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