Chapter 8. Studying Dena'ina discourse markers: Evidence from elicitation and narrative

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Lovick, Olga Charlotte
discourse marker; Dena'ina; Athabaskan; elicitation; narrative; corpus
book chapter description
This paper is concerned with discourse markers in Dena’ina Athabascan. One problem for transcribers and translators of Dena’ina texts is the great number of particles (i.e., words that cannot be inflected) that, according to speaker judgments “have no meaning” or “mean something else in every sentence.” This suggests that these particles are discourse markers, whose function is to relate discourse units to each other and to the discourse as a whole. The paper contrasts two different forms of linguistic inquiry: direct inquiry in the field, by elicitation of meaning and function of the discourse markers, and indirect inquiry, by study of a corpus of Dena’ina narratives. While elicitation is helpful in obtaining an initial gloss for the discourse markers, it is shown that only the study of texts will give us insight into the function of such particles and allows us to understand the important differences between particles that, on first sight, appear to be synonymous.