Discourse Markers In Rayya Tigrinya: Documentation And Linguistic Analysis

No Thumbnail Available



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title




This study identifies and documents discourse markers (henceforth DMs), and analyzes their linguistic features in the Rayya Tigrinya variety that is spoken in the Southern Zone of the Tigray Regional State in Ethiopia. The study relies on a mini-corpus, which contains informal interviews, oral narratives, and authentic conversations. The analysis shows that DMs include enclitics like =jja ‘hear-say evidential marker’, =s ‘assertive focus marker’; =bba ‘selective focus marker’, and =mma ‘question focus marker’. Particle DMs such as ʔɨbba ‘selective focus marker’, interjections like waj ‘evaluative’, verbs like ʔams’ɨʔ-ə-ll-əj ‘bring: IMP SJ .2 SM BEN -1 SG ’ (‘planning process marker’) (lit.: ‘You bring (something) to me’), and complex phrases such as kaʔu-χə ‘then- DM _ Q (‘coherence marker’, ‘turn management’) (lit.: then what?) are some of the DMs. Syntactically, DMs occur in all positions: initial, medial, and final of a host segment. DMs also appear in stuck in all positions. Though most of the DMs in Rayya Tigrinya do not inflect for a grammatical function, there are some exceptions. For instance, ʔams’ɨʔələj (ʔams’ɨʔ-ə-ll-əj ‘bring: IMP SJ .2 SM BEN -1 SG ’) ‘planning process’ (lit.: ‘You bring something to me’)’ has prefixes that marks defferent grammatical features like agreement. DMs have different functions in different contexts. The DM ʔɨmma ‘so’ that calls attention, saves face, and marks focus in imperatives is a good example to show the multifunctional nature of DMs. When ʔɨʃʃi ‘okay’ appears in a turn initial, it marks a planning process and acknowledging for getting a turn at a time. The removal of the enclitic DM =s from a host segment changes a subordinate clause to a main clause. DMs also create a textually coherent discourse. When the DM kaʔuχə ‘then what?’ appears after a discussion was interrupted, it functions globally to let the interlocutor resume a discussion. DMs like ʔɨmma ‘so’ also relate a message that is fetched from a physical context and explicitly given in a co-text. Similarly, DMs in Rayya Tigrinya are used to manage turn-takings. The enclitic DM =jja ‘hearsay’ marks as a source of information is hearsay. Cut-off words and repetitions marker speaking performance related matters.



documents discourse markers (henceforth DMs)