Work Papers of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, University of North Dakota Session


Relevance theory claims that words encode different types of meaning: concepts or procedures. Within this framework, discourse connectors are understood as encoding procedural instructions for the inferential part of utterance comprehension. This analysis allows for a unitary account of particles with seemingly diverse functions. Following Blass (1990) in her study of Sissala ma, English also and German auch, I examine the two discourse particles hum and –ãĩ of Indus Kohistani, a language spoken in Northern Pakistan. Both of them encode procedural meaning in that they exclude backwards contradiction as a possible way of utterance interpretation, but allow backwards confirmation and additive processing. This analysis applies to the full range of data and thus supports the interpretation of such particles as procedural devices indicating in which way to achieve relevance.

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