Talk: Concessive connectors as discourse markers: The case of although and obwohl

Both the English although and the German obwohl are most typically known for their function as concessive connectors found at the onset of a clause.
In the past few decades, discourse markers have become “a growth industry in linguistics” (Fraser, 1999, p. 932), and studying their textual functions, both well-known and emergent, interacts with the established theory and brings new insights.
While investigating final though from a grammaticalization perspective, Barth-Weingarten and Couper-Kuhlen (2002) detected a textual function of although, not as prominent as in though, and related to a “restriction or correction with respect to a chunk of prior discourse” (Barth-Weingarten/Couper-Kuhlen, 2002, p. 352). They claim this observation can be made for German obwohl as well, and indeed, Günther (1999) notes an emergent use of obwohl as a discourse marker to initiate a correction in what had been said before.
Auer (2005) remarks on the increase in syntactic and semantic distance between propositions linked with a discourse-marking obwohl. There is no pattern of concession to speak of, as the scope of the discourse marker is broadened beyond the clause(s).
This goal of this paper is a quantitative investigation of this emergent use of although and obwohl, and a comparison between the two languages and what this development means. Spoken English and German corpora (from and the FOLK corpus respectively) are searched for tokens of although and obwohl with a concessive and discourse-marking function, so a quantitative comparison can be made between the functions.
Since this work is done within the framework of grammaticalization theory, the quantitative analysis is followed by a discussion of how this process fits into the existing theory.

The principles from grammaticalization theory that set up the theoretical framework for this work are clines (Hopper and Traugott), scope broadening (Tabor and Traugott), phonetic and prosodic weight (Barth-Weingarten/Couper-Kuhlen) and others. They will be elaborated on as part of the quantitative analysis.


Day: 2020-11-21
Start time: 12:45
Duration: 00:30
Room: Odille Morison
Track: Historical Linguistics
Language: en




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