So we were just like, 'ok' : the discourse markers like and just in the speech of young South Africans

Lochner, Nicole Jean (2019-04)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Discourse markers are often studied in connection to language change, as the development of discourse markers indicates a shift in both the linguistic and social aspects of language. These markers are adopted into a language and will either change with the language, or fall into disuse. Historically, discourse markers were seen to be meaningless fillers, however, more recent research has shown that discourse markers perform vital functions with regards to linguistic interactions in spoken discourse. It is necessary to determine what these key functions are and how they fit into the structure of the language in order to show that the markers do more than act as pause fillers. Previous research has looked into a number of different discourse markers in different English varieties but there has been little to no research into discourse markers in South African English. This study reported on in this thesis focuses on the discourse markers like and just as they are used in South African English. The study investigates the structural distribution of each of these discourse markers, following the methodology used by Tagliamonte (2005), as well as the functions of both like and just as they occur in the data. The frequency of use of the discourse markers by age and sex was also investigated. The data used to inform the study was made up of conversational interviews with 17 participants. The interview data was transcribed to form a corpus, made up of 22897 words, of which 735 were tokens of like and 181 were tokens of just. The results showed that like was most used by females between the ages of 15 and 18. While like was used by all three age groups, the prevalence of the marker in the 15 to 18 age group may indicate an age-grading phenomena. Just was used more frequently by females between the ages of 19 and 21. The data showed that the use of just increased by age suggesting that the discourse marker is currently undergoing linguistic change. Like was found to occur most commonly before a noun phrase while just is found more frequently before a verb. With regards to the functional distribution, like functioned mostly as a pause filler, although it also frequently functioned as an approximator. Just most commonly held the function of minimiser, specifically minimising an assertion. Nevertheless, the results show that both like and just have a number of different functions and are therefore not merely pause fillers and do adhere to the syntactic rules of the language.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Diskoersmerkers word dikwels bestudeer in verband met taalverandering, aangesien die ontwikkeling van diskoersmerkers dui op ’n verskuiwing in beide die linguistiese en sosiale aspekte van taal. Hierdie merkers word opgeneem in ’n taal en sal met die taal saam verander of in onbruik val. Histories is diskoersmerkers beskou as betekenlose vullers. Tog het meer onlangse navorsing getoon dat diskoersmerkers noodsaaklike funksies verrig met betrekking tot linguistiese interaksies in gesproke diskoers. Dit is nodig om vas te stel wat hierdie sleutelfunksies is en hoe hulle pas in die struktuur van taal, ten einde te wys dat die merkers meer doen as om slegs te dien as pouse-vullers. Vorige navorsing het gekyk na ’n aantal verskillende diskoersmerkers in verskillende variëteit van Engels, maar daar is min of geen navorsing gedoen oor Suid-Afrikaanse Engels. Die studie wat in hierdie tesis beskryf word fokus op die diskoersmerkers like en just soos wat hulle gebruik word in Suid-Afrikaanse Engels. Die studie doen ondersoek oor die strukturele verspreiding van elk van hierdie diskoersmerkers en volg die metodologie wat deur Tagliamonte (2005) gebruik is, asook oor die funksies van beide like en just soos wat hulle in die data voorkom. Die gebruiksvoorkoms van die diskoersmerkers in terme van ouderdom en geslag is ook nagevors. Die data wat gebruik word om die studie in te lig het bestaan uit gespreksonderhoude met 17 deelnemers. Die data wat uit hierdie onderhoude ingesamel is, is getranskribeer om ’n korpus te vorm, wat bestaan uit 22897 woorde, en waarvan 735 die woord like was, en 181 die woord just was. Die resultate het getoon dat like die meeste gebruik is deur vroue tussen 15 en 18 jaar. Terwyl like deur al drie ouderdomsgroepe gebruik is, kan die frekwente voorkoms van die merker in die 15 tot 18 jaar-ouderdomsgroep op ’n ouderdomsgradering-verskynsel dui. Just is meer dikwels gebruik deur vrouens tussen 19 en 21 jaar. Die data het getoon dat die gebruik van just vermeerder het met ouderdom, wat voorstel dat die diskoersmerker tans linguistiese verandering ondergaan. Like het meestal voor ’n naamwoordfrase voorgekom, terwyl just tipies voor ’n werkwoord voorgekom het. Met betrekking tot die funksionele verspreiding het like meestal gedien as ’n pouse-vuller, maar dit het ook gedien vir benadering. Just het meestal die funksie gehad van minimiseerder, spesifiek om ’n bewering te minimiseer. Nietemin, het die resultate getoon dat beide like en just ’n aantal verskillende funksies het en dus nie slegs pouse-vullers is nie en ook die sintaktiese reëls van die taal navolg.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/105980
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