LINGUIST List 14.1163

Tue Apr 22 2003

Sum: Discourse-Initial 'and'

Editor for this issue: Steve Moran <>


  1. George Huttar, Summary: discourse-initial 'and'

Message 1: Summary: discourse-initial 'and'

Date: Tue, 22 Apr 2003 09:49:49 +0300
From: George Huttar <>
Subject: Summary: discourse-initial 'and'

I posted the following query (Linguist 14.687) on 9 March 2003:

Can anyone suggest bibliography treating discourse-initial use of
'and', whether in poetry or in ordinary conversation? It appears to
suggest a tie to something assumed to be knopwn by both speaker and
hearer. Does this come under echoic utterances, or
metarepresentation? Or...?

First, my thanks to Kristina Kocheva, Toshiko Hamaguchi, J L Speranza,
John Constable, Ronnie Sim, M. J. Murphy, Mirjana Miskovic, and for
their replies.

Second, the following references were suggested:

Blakemore, Diane (1987) Semantic constraints on relevance. Oxford: 

Blakemore, Diane and Robyn Carston (1999) The pragmatics of 
 and-conjunctions: The non-narrative cases. UCL working papers in 
 linguistics 11. [Internet edition]. 

Fraser, Bruce 1996: "Pragmatic markers". Pragmatics 6:2. 167--190.

Heritage, John / Marja-Leena Sorjonen 1994: "Constructing and
 maintaining activities across sequences: _And_-prefacing as a feature 
 of question design". Language in society 23. 1--29.

Schiffrin, Deborah 1987: Discourse markers. Cambridge U P. (mentioned 
 by several respondents)

Schiffrin, Deborah (2001) Discourse markers: Language, meaning and 
 context. In D. Schiffrin, H. Hamilton and D. Tannen (eds.), Handbook of 
 discourse analysis. Malden, Mass: Blackwell, 54-75.

Skļæ½ries, Ulrike 1998: Bedeutung und funktion von _and_ als 
 dialogische Instruktion, Frankfurt/Main u.a.

Third, the comments other than bibliographical ones:

1. The original query arose from an English lit. specialist
encountering numerous works, especially poems, in English beginning
with 'and' (and 'et', 'und', etc. in other languages), using
definitions 11-12 for 'and' in the OED, and hypothesizing that the
'and' functions to access some assumption(s) common to writer and
audience, in light of which whatever follows the 'and' is hard to
believe--"amazing but true", so to speak.

2. One respondent seriously challenges the use of anything metrical as
valid data for pragmatic or other studies, since we never know when a
word may have been included simply for the sake of the meter. He and
the original writer are now in correspondence--the latter arguing that
initial 'and' is sometimes, but not always, simply an unskilled

3. Other respondents gave a variety of additional examples:

a. "So is the AV/KJV of 1611 following an acceptable English usage
when it meticulously 'translates' Herew clause-initial vav as 'And...'

b. "Initial 'Ands' are very common in older English texts like
Malory's 'Morte D'arthur', where it often functions in the same manner
as "Then", at least sometimes. In modern literature, especially in
"fantasy" and such genres, it is often used as a means of conveying a
"ye olde" sound to the writing." E.g., "The Night Land", by William
Hope Hodgeson.

c. Charles Wesley's well-known hymn that begins "And can it be that I
should gain an interest in the saviour's blood? Died He for me, who
caused His pain...?" Many of the examples of discourse-initial 'and'
introduce questions--GLH]

d. "Well, I hope it's something pragmatic, since "&p" is not even
well-formed in logic, is it (So much for Strawson's _Introduction to
Logical Theory_ and Grice's 'Logic and Conversation'). There is this
famous song (refrain),

 "And when I told them
 How beautiful you were --
 they didn't believe me..."

"-- Vanessa Redgrave sings it in film _Agatha_ --. Of course, there is
a _verse_ behind, which due to my musicological research I am hereby
able to provide for the sake of relevance, and which goes:

 "Got the cutest little way
 Like to watch you all the day.
 And it certainly seems fine
 Just to think that you'll be mine.
 When I see your pretty smile
 Makes the living worth the while.
 So I've got to run around
 Telling people what I've found."
 [singer bursts into refrain]
 "AND when I told them..."

"-- learn more from this famous little song at 

Best Regards,
Kristina Kotcheva
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