LINGUIST List 26.3050

Fri Jun 26 2015

Review: Discourse; Historical Ling; Pragmatics; Syntax: Ghezzi, Molinelli (2014)

Editor for this issue: Sara Couture <>

Date: 11-Feb-2015
From: Magdalena Nigoevic <>
Subject: Discourse and Pragmatic Markers from Latin to the Romance Languages
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Book announced at

EDITOR: Chiara Ghezzi
EDITOR: Piera Molinelli
TITLE: Discourse and Pragmatic Markers from Latin to the Romance Languages
SERIES TITLE: Oxford Studies in Diachronic and Historical Linguistics 9
PUBLISHER: Oxford University Press
YEAR: 2014

REVIEWER: Magdalena Nigoevic, University of Split

Review's Editor: Helen Aristar-Dry


This volume comprises eleven (11) case studies of distinguished scholars from
different theoretical backgrounds examining both the diachronic development
and the synchronic properties of discourse and pragmatic markers across the
Romance languages. The contributions are brought together by two editorial
chapters: the introductory one that explains the origin and gives an overview
of the themes represented in the volume and the one that introduces the
theoretical and methodological framework adopted in the volume.

The contributions are organized around two thematic parts: the first
containing five studies devoted to deverbal markers, and the second consisting
of six studies that focus on markers derived from adverbs. The conclusive
editorial chapter that summarizes new insights is followed by the extensive
list of References, Author index and Subject index.


Chapter 1: Chiara Ghezzi and Piera Molinelli: Discourse and pragmatic markers
from Latin to the Romance languages: New insights (pp. 1-9)

This chapter introduces the volume, in which “synchronic and diachronic
approaches are balanced in order to describe recurrent morphosyntactic,
semantic, and textual properties” (p.1) of different markers in Romance
languages. The authors depict several lines of investigation in relation to
functional markers: synchronic description of the nature and properties of
markers, diachronically-oriented studies which are highly relevant when
languages which have all developed from a common ancestor (i.e. Latin) are
concerned and analysis which studies the relationship between the diachronic
development of markers and their synchronic functions. Through a brief
presentation of the case studies that follow, they offer insights into the
scholars’ different theoretical approaches and varied terminology for
functional markers, as well as their various positions on grammaticalization
and pragmaticalization.

Chapter 2: Chiara Ghezzi: The development of discourse and pragmatic markers
(pp. 10-26)

This chapter represents an overview of research on the rise of these
functional items in Romance and other languages. By exploring the prototypical
functional and formal properties of these pragmatic items, the author outlines
different theoretical positions on notions, approaches and methodologies that
shed light on the synchronic functions performed by these items. The terms
‘discourse marker’ and ‘pragmatic marker’ as used in the volume are defined.
She then focuses on the peculiarities of their diachronic developments in
Romance languages not only because it is relevant for their polyfunctional
nature, but also because of the intrinsic relationship between the
pragmaticalized item and its source lexeme. Grammaticalization and
pragmaticalization, as well as subjectification and intersubjectification ‒
the processes underlining the developments of functional markers – are briefly
discussed and defined.

Part I: Verbs as Pragmatic Markers

Chapter 3: Maria Iliescu: Call markers in French, Italian, and Romanian

This chapter analyses call markers derived from verbs of visual and auditory
perception in Romanian, French, and Italian from comparative and synchronic
perspective. Moving from the already established fact that the verbs of
perception, especially in the imperative mood, are often employed as attention
getters, the author discusses their morphosyntactic and semantic properties.
Through examples taken from written sources as well as from the corpus of
spoken language, the author compares the similarities and dissimilarities in
all three languages. These verbs all have a primary perceptive meaning and
they have developed cognitive meanings. Although the verb sources in the three
languages share identical semantic domains, some elements are specific to each
language: Rom. possesses two agentive visual verbs ‘a se uita’ and ‘a privy’;
Fr. adverbs as ‘voici’ and ‘voilà’ partly block the verb ‘voir’ when used as a
call marker; It. visual agentive verb ‘guardare’ and the non-agentive auditory
verb ‘sentire’ have undergone cognitive meaning extension and they function as
parasynonyms. She shows that, despite the fact that typology of the semantic
domains involving the verbs of sense perception is almost identical in the
three Romance languages, it is possible to highlight their particularities by
comparing the pragmatic functions of imperatives of visual and auditory

Chapter 4: Adriana Costachescu: On disagreement markers in French and Romanian
dialogue (pp. 41-60)

This is a comparative and synchronic study that analyses the semantic and
pragmatic values of French and Romanian disagreement markers developed from
verbal phrases. Adopting a conversational approach, the author examines
conversational implications involved in the use of disagreement markers in
dialogue. She begins by an overview of analysed markers: Fr. ‘assez’ ‘enough’,
‘ça suffit comme’ ‘that’s enough’, ‘arrêtez’ ‘stop (doing that)’, ‘tais-toi’
‘be quiet’, ‘zut’ ‘damn’ and Rom. ‘destul’ o ‘ajunge’ ‘(that’s) enough’,
‘gata’ ‘that’ll do’, ‘lasă-o (moartǎ)’ ‘leave it’, ‘taci’ ‘be quiet’,
‘încetează’ ‘stop (doing that)’. She further questions the adequacy of Grice’s
conversational theory, since Grice’s Cooperative Principle, along with his
maxims, is based on harmony and agreement among the participants in the
conversation and it ignores a series of non-cooperative conversations
(cross-examination, political debate, trials). For that purpose, she analyses
the role of markers expressing disagreement or exasperation using the examples
from French and Romanian dialogical texts. The author asserts that the Gricean
framework is too strict to cover disagreement; she proposes to enrich it by
asserting that the cooperative principle is not violated if the disagreement
is explicitly stated.

Chapter 5: Chiara Ghezzi and Piera Molinelli: Deverbal pragmatic markers from
Latin to Italian (Lat. ‘quaeso’ and It. ‘prego’): The cyclic nature of
functional developments (pp. 61-85)

This chapter contains an exhaustive cross-linguistic comparative study of
Latin and Italian courtesy markers. Based on the corpora of Latin and Italian
written sources (except for the C-Oral Rom corpus of spoken contemporary
Italian), the authors analyse the changes in pragmatic cycle of Latin
verb-based courtesy markers ‘QUAESO’ and ‘ROGO’ ‘I ask, I pray’ and the
development and Italian ‘prego’ ‘I pray’ and ‘chiedo’ ‘I ask’. Using a number
of different parameters, such as morphosyntactic context and the pragmatic,
textual and semantic properties of the verbs in question, the authors follow
the pragmatic pattern which fosters their gradual pragmaticalization. The
results suggest that ‘QUAESO’ is more common in classical Latin while ‘ROGO’
acquires pragmatic values only later. Although in contemporary It. ‘prego’ can
even represent an independent turn where it is completely pragmaticalized
(‘Grazie. Prego!’ ‘Thank you! You are welcome!), it nevertheless preserves
uses connecting with the meaning of the source verb. The Latin courtesy marker
‘QUAESO’ was gradually replaced by ‘ROGO’ in Latin. On the other hand, the
frequent use of the root ‘QUAES-’, becoming ‘QUAERO’, gave rise to the Italian
‘chiedo’. The pragmatic value of the ‘ROGO’ was not maintained in Italian,
since it was substituted by ‘prego’, derived from another Latin performative
verb with a similar meaning (‘PRECOR’). The diachronic reconstruction of
courtesy markers in the languages examined suggests the functional and cyclic
nature of their pragmatic evolution.

Chapter 6: Michaela Livescu: ‘Mǎ rog’: A pragmatic marker in Romanian (pp.

This chapter offers a diachronic and sociolinguistic analysis of the Romanian
courtesy marker ‘mă rog’ ‘please’ (< Rom. verb ‘a ruga’ < Lat. ‘ROGO’). The
author gives a detailed analysis of the pragmatic development of ‘mă rog’,
based on the examples drawn from Romanian 19th and 20th century texts and some
newspaper articles. Its pragmatic development can be followed in several
phases: it is first used as a courtesy marker in requests, then it gradually
acquires circumstantial and modalizing functions and eventually it becomes an
attention getter and a verbal tic. From the politeness function other
functions progressively emerged, especially those of expressing concession
(toning down a previous utterance or clarification of preceding statement) or
hedging (a signal of formal assent; a turn-managing, turn-closing or
turn-giving device; a hesitation marker). The analysis of contexts of use and
corresponding functions shows not only that the marker is today highly
polyfunctional and completely pragmaticalized in Romanian, but also that it
has been in the language for a relatively long time (since the 19th century)
with equal frequency in different regional varieties, although it appears to
be more frequent in urban speech.

Chapter 7: Salvador Pons Bordería: Paths of grammaticalization in Spanish ‘o
sea’ (pp. 109-136)

The chapter analyses the paths of grammaticalization of the Sp. discourse
marker ‘o sea’ (lit. ‘or be-SBJV’). The rise of the reformulative value is
best explained by multicausation, which involves several factors: changes in
syntax and in the semantics of the disjunctive marker, polyphony, discourse
genres, the existence of a previous paradigm of reformulative markers, and the
position of ‘o sea’ in the sentence. The author claims that the theory of
discourse units can be of great interest for grammaticalization studies. He
integrates synchronic description of pragmatic functions of the reformulation
marker ‘o sea’ in Modern Spanish with a description of its diachronic
development from Early Spanish. Historical data shows that ‘o sea’ not only
developed functions in the precise order: paraphrastic reformulator <
conclusive < non-paraphrastic reformulator < modal values (stressing and
hedging), but this path of grammaticalization depends on its different
discourse position and also on the distinct discourse units.

Part II: Adverbs as Discourse Markers

Chapter 8: Maj-Britt Mosegaard Hansen: Cyclicity in semantic/pragmatic change:
The medieval particle ‘ja’ between Latin ‘IAM’ and Modern French ‘déjà’ (pp.

This chapter proposes a corpus-driven account of the development of the
Medieval French particle ‘ja’ from Latin ‘IAM’ ‘now, as of this moment’ to
Modern French ‘déjà’. Through the analysis of examples taken from a
historical electronic database, the author discusses the overall diachronic
evolution of ‘ja’ in terms of its polifunctionality. She identifies a total of
eleven functions of medieval French ‘ja’. However, its range of functions only
partially overlaps with those of its Latin etymological source and those of
its modern French descendant. The author assumes that the basic meaning of
‘ja’, the temporal sense, is historically prior to other, aspectual and
non-temporal (assertive discourse particle) uses. After representing a
hypothetical network of uses of Medieval French ‘ja’, she elaborates on
motivations that led to the disappearance of ‘ja’ in modern French, i.e. its
surviving only as an etymological component of other temporal/aspectual
adverbs in Modern French (e.g. ‘déjà’ ‘already’ and ‘jamais’ ‘(n)ever’).
Considering the evolution of these particles, which evolved from a basic, very
similar temporal/aspectual sense but with their own discourse functions,
although not always corresponding ones, she also suggests the existence of
cross-linguistic cycles of pragmaticalization.

Chapter 9: Chiara Fedriani and Emanuele Miola: French ‘déjà’, Piedmontese
Italian ‘già’: A case of contact-induced pragmaticalization (pp. 166-189)

The authors analyse a specific case of contact-induced pragmaticalization
undergone by some adverbs meaning ‘already’ in Piedmontese Regional Italian
(PRI), French and some neighbouring varieties. These functional units,
labelled by authors as ‘Erinnerungsfragepartikeln’ (EFP(n)), literally
‘interrogative particles of remembering’, fulfil discourse-related values as
turn-managing devices and politeness-motivated face-saving tools. On the basis
of different source adverbs and semantic implications, the authors identify
three main categories of EFPn (iterative, inchoative and cumulative) attested
within European languages. Following the peculiar areal distribution, they
frame the subsequent discussion of the pragmatic values acquired by the Fr.
‘déjà’ and its PRI cognate ‘già’, both descendants of Latin ‘(DE) IAM’ meaning
‘already’. On the basis of the historical textual date and the examples from
the contemporary spoken varieties, the authors focus on the development of
‘già’ ‘already’ as EFP in PRI. The pragmatic value developed by PRI ‘già’ has
to be understood in terms of the process of pragmaticalization induced by
contact with French (and indirectly with German). Furthermore, the authors
discuss the pragmaticalization of ‘già’, ‘déjà’ and other EFPn in the light of
Lehmann’s (2002) traditional parameters of grammaticalization, highlighting
their inadequacy in capturing the patterns of pragmatic development of such
linguistic items.

Chapter 10: Mario Squartini: The pragmaticalization of ‘already’ in Romance:
From discourse grammar to illocution (pp. 190-210)

This contribution compares the discursive functions of the French
temporal-aspectual adverb ‘déjà’ to its cognate form ‘già’ in the regional
variety of north-western Italian (i.e. Piedmontese Regional Italian), both
descendants of Latin ‘(DE) IAM’ ‘already’. Using mainly internet data
collected for the purpose of the present study, the author demonstrates that,
despite areal similarities, the pragmatic uses of French ‘déjà’ and
north-western Italian ‘già’ show significant differences. The synchronic
comparison is diachronically reappraised by contrasting their pragmatic
functions, especially in regards to information flow and their uses as
backchecking devices in direct questions. He concludes that the main
functional category of the north-western Italian ‘già’ concerns its role as a
marker of information state, while the French ‘déjà’ seems to be predetermined
by its general role as an illocutionary marker. These functional discrepancies
are interpreted in a diachronic perspective as indicative of different stages
of the same pragmaticalization path, which suggests a gradual evolution from
discourse grammar to pragmatics.

Chapter 11: Ana Cristina Macário Lopes: ‘Aliás’: A contribution to the study
of a Portuguese discourse marker (pp. 211-221)

This chapter considers the diachronic development of the contemporary
Portuguese discourse marker ‘aliás’, originating from the Latin adverb alias
meaning ‘another time, another moment’. By demonstrating its inherent
polyfunctional behaviour throughout history, the author questions the
traditional view of the unidirectional pathway of discourse marker
development. The diachronic analysis shows that ‘aliás’ displays a range of
different functions, encoding different meanings in different periods of the
history of the Portuguese language: adverb of manner,
reformulation/rectification connective, negative hypothesis connective,
comment marker. Some of its old usages have disappeared in contemporary
Portuguese (i.e. ‘aliás’ as an adverb of manner and ‘aliás’ as a discourse
connective marking negative condition), while only two functions are attested
in Modern European Portuguese: a digressive comment and a rectification
marker. Since the procedural and pragmatic meanings are already present in the
oldest occurrences of ‘aliás’, the author suggests that the hypothesis within
the grammaticalization theoretical framework thatdiscourse markers developed
from content to procedural meaning , i.e. a horizontal, gradual and
unidirectional change, should be reconsidered.

Chapter 12: Mihaela Popescu: Romanian ‘atunci’ and French ‘alors’: Functional
and discourse properties (pp. 222-236)

This chapter proposes the discourse-pragmatic behaviour of the contemporary
Romanian adverb ‘atunci’ ‘then’ (< Latin phrase *‘AD-TUNC-CE’ ‘at that
moment’) and of corresponding French adverb ‘alors’ (< Latin ‘ILLA HORA’ ’at
that hour’). The synchronic and contrastive analysis shows that both
linguistic items are frequently used in argumentative structures, where they
perform different pragmatic functions related to discourse structuring.
Regarding their pragmatic functions as markers, they usually serve as markers
of topic opening or closure with different values assumed (phatic markers,
presentational markers, focalizers, floor-holding devices). The author
concludes that, apart from a certain degree of functional equivalence of these
items, Fr. ‘alors’ in spoken contemporary French has acquired a higher degree
of polyfunctionality. Rom. ‘atunci’ is less pragmatically marked than Fr.
‘alors’ in the range of argumentative functions, especially in its metatextual
values. Along with a greater number of pragmatic uses, Fr. ‘alors’ seems to
have a freer positioning within the utterance, while Rom. ‘atunci’ tends to be
placed in initial position. The anaphoric temporal meaning leads to multiple
pragmatic values as a result of a radial evolution.

Chapter 13: Corinne Rossari: How does a concessive value emerge? (pp. 237-260)

This chapter investigates French adverbial items with a concessive value,
‘certes’ ‘certainly’, ‘en effet’, ‘effectivement’ ‘actually’, ‘d’accord’ ‘OK’,
and ‘soit’ ‘granted, so be it’, in order to explain how their concessive,
pragmatic value derived from their semantic meanings. As concessive markers,
they can be considered as both a pragmatic marker, specifying a discourse
relation of counter-argumentation, and a discourse marker, focusing on
interaction alluding to a possible previous discourse. They can express an
agreement in dialogical contexts and a concession in monological context. Even
if they can be interchangeable in many different contexts, they differ
regarding the way they react to the information state expressed by the
addressee’s utterance and regarding the level of the utterance to which they
react. Synchronic perspective is then integrated with diachronic data in order
to interpret the emergence of concessive values. The basic key to explaining
this process of evolution is that discourse markers acquire the pragmatic
function through an increasing subjectivity. The analysis supports the idea
that linguistic change can also comprise wider extra-linguistic phenomena such
as stylistic habits.

Conclusion: Piera Molinelli: The development of functional roles and Romance
languages: Processes and patterns (pp. 261-271)

In the concluding chapter, one of the editors of the volume appropriately
summarizes the content of the previous contributions by discussing the main
topics of the present volume. The studies gathered here examine the
developments and the present status of discourse and pragmatic markers in
Romance languages, by applying different approaches and following diverse
lines of research. In accordance with the aim of the volume, the chapter
discusses “ relevant implications deriving from analysis of both processes
(mechanics), properties and patterns (mechanisms) involved in functional
pragmatic changes in genealogically related languages” (p. 261). Three
different groups of topics, which draw together these proposals, are
considered: (a) the synchronic description of the functional markers’ nature
and properties, (b) the role of diachronic developments in the account of the
multifunctional nature of many markers, and (c) the relationship between the
diachronic developments and their synchronic function. The author also
highlights the new insights that this volume brings to the scientific debate.


This volume offers a wide spectrum of approaches to identifying different
classes of functional markers in relation to their lexical sources and to
discussing the development of discourse and pragmatic markers, underlining, in
a contrastive perspective, the regularities of processes in different
languages, to account for the role of both the synchronic and the diachronic
dimension, and also for their integration.

Each chapter presents case studies in different Romance languages and deals
with a number of issues relating to various topics: pragmatic
polyfunctionality of the items, diachronic patterns of evolution and their
morphosyntactic properties. Several authors follow the diachronic (and
contrastive) development of pragmatic functions of markers (e.g. Ch. 5, Ch.
9). Some of them employ synchronic (and contrastive) approach (e.g. Ch. 3,
Ch.4), while the others combine the two paths (e.g. Ch. 7, Ch. 8).
Nevertheless, they generally provide the relationship between the diachronic
development of the particular marker and its synchronic status, the functions
performed at the discursive and interactional levels, and the morphosyntactic
properties of source lexemes. These proposals also apply a pragmatic
perspective to linguistic phenomena usually explained on a morphosyntactic

By redefining terms and processes on the basis of formal peculiarities and
similarities in developments of different sources (i.e. verbs and adverbs),
the volume also provides an important step towards identifying the boundaries
between different functional markers. One of its important achievements is a
thorough distinction (clearly stated in the very title of the volume) between
discourse markers and pragmatic markers; the two terms are conventionally used
as synonyms in the literature. The functions of the markers are clustered
around three main macro functions: textual cohesion and coherence, social
cohesion, and speaker’s personal stance (see Ch. 2) in order to demonstrate
how the classification depends on the particular functions performed by these
markers. Thus, the first (discourse markers) relate to the structure of
discourse and guarantee textual cohesion and coherence, and the latter
(pragmatic markers) have (inter)personal value and serve interactive goals.
However, there are some inconsistencies which need to be pointed out. Although
highly appreciated reviews are present throughout the volume (e.g. see pp. 91,
169, 191, 240), the topics of several papers intersect (e.g.
grammaticalization and/or pragmaticalization) and the volume would have
benefited from more cross-references. Questioning and re-examining the process
of grammaticalization, as in Chapter 11, seems to be superfluous, especially
considering the focus of the present volume – development of functional
markers, and the fact that the notions of grammaticalization and
pragmaticalization have been widely debated in previous studies (Traugott
2010, Diewald 2011) and in the introductory chapter. Furthermore, there are
two different references to the same article: Hansen (2000) in the References,
and Hansen (2002) in the text (see Ch. 10).

Generally, the major contribution of this volume is its search for a “holistic
way” to analyze discourse and pragmatic markers, by integrating both
synchronic and diachronic approaches to a group of Romance languages. The fact
that diachronic studies and synchronic descriptions are used to provide
explanations for cross-linguistic phenomena could be used as a model for a
similar approach to functional markers in another genealogically related
language group (e.g. Slavic languages).


Diewald, Gabriele. 2011. Pragmaticalization (defined) as grammaticalization of
discourse functions. Linguistics 49(2). 365-390.

Hansen, Maj-Britt Mosegaard. 2000. La polysémie de l’adverbe ‘déjà’. In:
Andersen, Hanne Leth and Anita Berit Hansen (eds.), Le français parlé: corpus
et résultats. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum. 157-177.

Lehmann, Christian. 2002. Thoughts on Grammaticalization, vol. 2. Erfurt:
Seminar für Sprachwissenschaft.

Traugott, Elizabeth Closs. 2010. Grammaticalization. In: Andreas H. Jucker and
Irma Taavitsainen (eds.), Historical Pragmatics. Berlin / New York: Mouton de
Gruyter. 97-126.


Magdalena Nigoević (Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of
Split; obtained her Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of
Zadar (Croatia) with a dissertation about discourse markers in Croatian and
Italian languages. She received her M.Phil. in General Linguistics from the
University of Zagreb (Croatia). She teaches linguistics courses at the
Graduate and Post-graduate Degree of the Department of Italian Language and
Literature, at the Music Department of the Academy of Arts and at the Doctoral
Degree Program in the Humanities of the University of Split. Her research
interests are discourse studies, linguistic pragmatics, semantics,
sociolinguistics and media language.

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