A functional-pragmatic analysis of conversation management strategies in Dholuo

DOI: 10.2989/16073614.2016.1261037
Author(s): Benson Oduor OjwangLinguistics Department, Kenya


Conversations in Dholuo entail use of words and phrases whose unique function is to sustain the interactions and facilitate co-construction of the talk. This is achieved through lexical choices that elicit further participation by motivating both speaker and addressee. These items, however, lack semantic content. Nonetheless, they have a communicative function and their role of giving the conversations a structure by encoding the emotive aspects of interpersonal interaction are of a pragmatic nature, hence their interpretation is derived from the contexts in which they are applied. They regulate the structure of the conversations by linking the successive turns and maintain discourse coherence. In this article, we adopt a framework advanced by Fraser and the parameters of Holker to examine the functional roles and relevance of pragmatic markers as a conversation management strategy in the construction of Dholuo interactions. It emerges that these pragmatic markers encode diverse extra linguistic information including the speaker’s attitudes towards the topic and their degree of interest in the talk. The pragmatic markers also enable speakers to take and maintain floor control as well as to request for elaboration.

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