Current Post-docs

Xin Xu (徐欣)

Functions of Discourse Markers in English and Chinese Fictional Discourses: A Corpus-based Study

The present study examines the distinctive functions of discourse markers in Chinese and English in the fiction genre. Three types of discourse markers are chosen for the comparative analysis: (1) the contrastive discourse markers but in English and dan shi in Chinese; (2) the elaborative discourse markers you know, I mean in English and ni zhi dao in Chinese; and (3) the inferential discourse markers so in English and suo yi in Chinese. Two online corpora, COCA and CCL Corpus, are used as data, and WordSmith Tools 6.0 is used to obtain the frequencies of the discourse markers and to identify their distributions.

The analysis has shown that discourse markers play a large role in constructing discourses, but their propositional functions are manifested only on the content level. In particular, the analysis of the distribution of discourse markers has shown that the discourse markers are constructive to the semantic and informative structure of the discourse, and that the semantics/pragmatics interface influences those regularities. The examination of specific discourse marking expressions has revealed that English discourse markers tend to be more pervasive than their Chinese counterparts in the fiction genre, which corresponds with the hypotaxis features of English and parataxis characteristics of Chinese language features.