Revisiting actually in different positions in some national varieties of English
Pragmatic markers have both formal and functional properties distinguishing them from other lexical elements in language. They do not belong to the propositional core of the utterance but need to be described in terms of their pragmatic and discourse functions in the discourse. According to Biber et al., pragmatic markers are ‘inserts’ in the utterance “unable to enter into syntactic relations with other structures” (Biber et al. 1999: 1002). They can signal boundaries or transitions in discourse and they are closely associated with attitudes and with social relationships. However we should not exaggerate the uniqueness of pragmatic markers. Just like other words in language they can be described in grammar with regard to position and the type of utterance or clause where they occur. This gives rise to the question about the relationship between formal features such as the position of pragmatic markers and their functions. Studying pragmatic markers from the point of view of what they are doing in different positions provides a new angle on their study which complements other research. Recently we have witnessed an increased interest in what is happening in the ‘periphery’ which goes hand in hand with a “reengagement of interactional research with grammatical consideration” (Clift 2001: 245). In other words, the analysis of pragmatic markers must consider the constraints imposed by the temporal contingency of interaction.
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