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A relevance-theoretic analysis of selected South African English pragmatic markers and their cultural significance

Gauche, Ana Maria (2017-12)

Thesis (DPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study examines the development and contemporary functions of three pragmatic markers (PMs), shame, hey and is it, common in South African English (SAfE). The analyses of these PMs were undertaken using the combined approaches of Grammaticalisation theory and Relevance theory. Each marker was found to manifest pragmatic meanings and functions that are atypical of its use in other English varieties. The development of these meanings and functions are explained as resulting from historical and linguistic factors that are unique to South Africa. Firstly, shame is shown to have broadly-developed pragmatic functions that are not only inoffensive but appreciative to the hearer; a distinct softening compared to its traditional sense. This meaningful change is attributed to both its widespread use as hyperbole and a functional and pragmatic association with specific Afrikaans items. Tokens from the SAfE data suggest an extrasentential occurrence on par with that of sentential adverbs and exclamatives. Secondly, tag hey, a linguistic item that has long been used in English in general, demonstrates atypical functions in SAfE. Although it is similar to tags eh and huh used in other varieties of English, it is argued that tag hey has functionally developed from its associations with specific Afrikaans and English lexical items. To this end, tag hey functions in attitudinal ways that are identifiable to SAfE speakers. Finally, the non-paradigmatic, invariant follow-up is it is argued to have developed from an association with the similarly functioning and sounding Afrikaans expression, is dit. Invariant follow-up is it is used where a variety of similarly constructed canonical responses (e.g., were they, could you) would be expected and demonstrates pragmatic functions unique to SAfE. It is furthermore argued that the PMs shame, hey and is it have resulted from contact-induced grammaticalisation, having developed in South Africa’s high-contact, multi-cultural environment in which English continues to serve as a lingua franca. Several historical factors are shown to have created conditions in which linguistic influences from English and Afrikaans have contributed towards the development of these PMs. Pragmatic strengthening, proceduralisation and obligatorification are the most apparent changes in the development of these PMs, resulting from (inter)subjectivity and leading to functions that trigger higher-level explicatures. During their development, each PM has gone through a stage in which it assisted in navigating toward inferential understanding of a communicative event, thereby benefitting interlocutors during intercultural interactions. In their contemporary use, each PM demonstrates manifest social identity and signals solidarity within the context of SAfE.

AFRIKAANS OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie ondersoek die ontwikkeling en hedendaagse funksies van drie pragmatiese merkers (PM’s) wat algemeen voorkom in Suid-Afrikaanse Engels (SAfE), naamlik shame, hey en is it. Die analises van hierdie PM’s is uitgevoer binne die gekombineerde benaderings van Grammatikaliseringsteorie en Relevansie-teorie. Daar is gevind dat elke merker pragmatiese betekenisse en funksies vertoon wat atipies is van hierdie elemente in ander variëteite van Engels. Die ontwikkeling van hierdie betekenisse en funksies word verklaar as die resultaat van historiese en taalkundige faktore wat uniek is aan Suid-Afrika. Eerstens word aangevoer dat die breë ontwikkeling van shame se pragmatiese funksies gelei het tot ‘n duidelike versagting van sy tradisionele betekenis. Hierdie versagting word toegeskryf aan beide sy wydverspreide gebruik as hiperbool en ‘n funksionele en pragmatiese assosiasie met spesifieke Afrikaanse items. Eksemplare uit die SAfE data dui op ‘n sinseksterne voorkoms gelykstaande aan dié van sinsadverbiale en uitroepe. Einddeel hey, in die tweede plek, is wel ‘n item met ‘n lang geskiedenis van gebruik in Engels, maar tog vertoon dit atipiese funksies in SAfE. Hoewel dit soortgelyk is aan die einddele eh and huh wat gebruik word in ander variëteite van Engels, word geargumenteer dat einddeel hey funksioneel ontwikkel het uit sy assosiasies met spesifieke Afrikaanse en Engelse leksikale items. In dié verband funksioneer einddeel hey om aspekte van houding uit te druk wat herkenbaar is vir sprekers van SAfE. Laastens word geargumenteer dat die nie-paradigmatiese, invariante opvolg is it ontwikkel het deur assosiasie met die Afrikaanse uitdrukking is dit, wat in terme van funksie en klankvorm sterk ooreenkomste toon met is it. Die invariante opvolg is it word gebruik waar verskeie ander kanonieke response met ’n soortgelyke struktuur (bv., were they, could you) verwag sou word, en vertoon pragmatiese funksies wat uniek is aan SAfE. Daar word voorts geargumenteer dat die PM’s shame, hey and is it die resultaat is van kontak-geïnduseerde grammatikalisering, aangesien hulle ontwikkel het in die hoë-kontak, multikulturele Suid-Afrikaanse omgewing waar Engels steeds as lingua franca gebruik word. Daar word aangetoon dat talle historiese faktore gelei het tot toestande waar taalkundige invloede van Engels en Afrikaans bygedra het tot die ontwikkeling van hierdie PM’s. Pragmatiese versterking, proseduralisering en verpligtendheid is die mees opvallende veranderinge in die ontwikkeling van hierdie PM’s; sulke prosesse is die resultaat van (inter)subjektiwiteit en lei tot funksies wat aanleiding gee tot hoër-vlak eksplikature. In hulle ontwikkeling het elke PM deur ‘n stadium gegaan waar hulle bygedra het tot die inferensiële verstaan van ‘n kommunikatiewe gebeurtenis, tot voordeel van gespreksgenote in interkulturele interaksies. In hulle hedendaagse gebruik dien elke PM om sosiale identiteit uit te druk, asook solidariteit in die konteks van SAfE.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/102818
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