LINGUIST List 29.2791

Thu Jul 05 2018

Calls: Discourse Analysis, Pragmatics/China

Editor for this issue: Kenneth Steimel <>

Date: 03-Jul-2018
From: Arne Lohmann <>
Subject: Discourse Marker Combinations
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Full Title: Discourse Marker Combinations

Date: 09-Jun-2019 - 14-Jun-2019
Location: Hong Kong, China
Contact Person: Arne Lohmann
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis; Pragmatics

Call Deadline: 15-Oct-2018

Meeting Description:

This panel is organized by Arne Lohmann (HHU Düsseldorf, Germany) and Christian Koops (University of New Mexico, USA)

This panel is concerned with the combinatory behavior of pragmatic markers, in particular discourse markers (DMs), as seen in sequences such as English but actually or you know I mean. Speakers’ propensity to combine DMs provides a source of insight into classic questions in DM research, as well as questions that have more recently come into focus in pragmatics research (see Lohmann & Koops, 2016 for a recent overview).

DM combinations have long been used as a tool in circumscribing an individual marker’s meaning or function. For instance, Murray (1979) discusses the combination oh by the way relative to the dispreferred well by the way to argue that oh, but not well, has a topic introducing function. Similarly, Aijmer (2002) argues that the frequent use of sort of in the sequence sort of you know demonstrates sort of’s interpersonal or affective meaning.

Another theoretically relevant aspect of DM combinations is their varying degree of fixedness. While some combinations can be considered loose, ad hoc-formations, others show evidence of developing into fixed expressions, e.g. English oh well (Schourup 2001) and French bon ben (Waltereit 2007). Both of these combinations have been discussed as possible instances of univerbation, reflected in a non-compositional function of the sequence as a whole. For oh well, Schourup (2001: 1031) finds that the sequence “has become conventionalized as a combined form to indicate resignation.”

A third perspective on DM combinations asks why some markers tend to co-occur while others do not. For instance, it has been argued that speakers preferentially combine markers that are more general in meaning with more specific ones (Oates 2001; Fraser 2015), as seen in preferred combinations of English contrastive DMs such as but conversely (Fraser 2013). A different motivation has been observed by Maschler (1994). She finds that modern Hebrew DMs, when used in sequence, combine discursive moves at specific, distinct levels of discourse, e.g. when the referential marker axshav ‘now’ is combined with the interpersonal marker tagídi li ‘tell me’.

Finally, a growing number of studies use DM sequencing as a window on the discourse-functional structure of the left clause periphery. Given that most DMs show strong ordering restrictions relative to each other, DM combinations can be seen as revealing a larger system of paradigmatic slots. Models of DM sequencing slots for French (Vicher & Sankoff 1989) and English (Koops & Lohmann 2015, Tagliamonte 2016) show that the ordering of DMs is surprisingly systematic and may indicate an “emergent syntax” of DMs (Vicher & Sankoff 1989). Moreover, Lohmann & Koops (2016) argue that the placement of a DM in alternative slots, e.g. so in and so versus so and, brings out the marker’s capacity to function at different levels of discourse organization.

Call for Papers:

Overall, the exciting and growing work on DM combinations shows that the phenomenon holds great potential for informing a variety of theoretical questions in pragmatics. For the proposed panel we invite papers addressing any aspect within this wide range of questions, including both empirical (methodological) or theoretical contributions.

Submission details:

Abstracts of 20-minute presentations (+10 minutes Q&A) should be 250 - 500 words in length (not including references and data) and should be submitted via the conference website ( and sent via email to Arne Lohmann ( and Chris Koops ( by October 15, 2018.


Due to space limitations, we could not list all references mentioned in the text here, see for a complete list of references.

Page Updated: 05-Jul-2018