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Pragmatic Markers: Term Definition Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jan 15th, 2022

Article’s summary

The term discourse makers and pragmatic makers are used interchangeably to portray coherence and interaction in speech. Common elements like “you know”, “well, I mean” and in fact yes are some of these elements. Pragmatic makers are common in most conversations but it is noted that the extent of their application cannot be evaluated. In the article “Utterances production and interpretation: A discourse-pragmatic study on pragmatic makers in English speeches”, Donhong attempts to find out or to evaluate the popularity of pragmatic makers in speeches and monologues. Donhong also analyzes different types of pragmatic markers such as elaborative makers, controversial markers and management markers. In his analysis Donghong compare the use of the three different marker by looking at the makers that are commonly used in speech and the ones that are least used. Donhong also attempts to give the reasons for these differences basing on the research study.


In the study to analyze the use of pragmatic markers, the necessary data is obtained from an analysis of several speeches. In the analysis different types of speeches are used, the variation in these speeches is brought about by the differences in audience, time, the writer background and the intended purpose. The method evaluates the intensiveness and the extensiveness of use of pragmatic markers and therefore it is both quantitative and qualitative. In the study, the analysis is done on both written and oral speech from one sentence to another. In the analysis, PDF and Wordsmith 3.0 are employed to analyze the data and put it into nine categories.


From the analysis, different frequencies on the use of pragmatic makers are obtained and therefore in order to analyze the obtained data effectively the data is converted into standardized frequencies. The standardized frequencies are obtained from the PDF and Wordsmith data. The data is then presented on a table and a frequency distribution graph.

Findings and conclusions

In the modern study of linguistics, the availability of the adaptation theory of linguistics and the relevance theory makes the analysis of pragmatic markers application possible. Using these two theories Donghong investigates the frequency in the use of pragmatic makers to determine their popularity and relevance in speech. From his analysis, Donghong concludes that pragmatic makers are commonly applied in public speech and goes on to claim that in most public speeches three pragmatic makers are used in every one hundred words.

There are different types or categories of pragmatic markers and the choice of the markers depends on their suitability in speech. The intended message and the audience also play an important role in the determination of the markers used. Elaborative markers are the most applied markers while inferential markers are the least used. On the other hand, the use of constructive markers and temporal markers has a frequency of intermediate level in their use. The reason why public speakers apply and use pragmatic markers is to enhance creativity in their utterances and to increase their interpretation level. The main reason behind these applications is to increase illustrations in speech. The frequency distribution graph gives a clear comparison between the frequency and the standard frequency in the use of pragmatic markers.

Critical analysis

Pragmatics makes an account of the effects of a sentence as presented by the speaker and context in which a pragmatic speaker deviates from the grammatical meaning or intention of a sentence (Blackmore, 1987). From this argument, the study of pragmatic markers is a broad subject and should have a wider coverage. The topic of the paper suggests that the study conducted is on pragmatic markers and in this context; the grammatical and linguistic properties of the language are ignored. Discourse marker is a term that is frequently used but most people do not consider broadness in its use. Schiffrin (1987) confirms this by suggesting that the discourse marker is a tricky term since users take it shallowly as a definition for sequentially dependent markers.

Pragmatic language has a function and at the same time has an effect to both the speech hearer and the speaker. According to (Aijmer, Marie & Vandenbergen, 2006) markers have an interactive as well as an argumentative purpose. This implies that markers have both a purpose and an effect and therefore any study should focus on the two aspects. The article by Donghong is an analysis article and therefore the topic of the article should be a well-rounded topic. The topic should therefore include the effect of pragmatic language as well as the purpose of the same. However, the topic is biased towards the effects of pragmatic language.

In the article, a method that is both quantitative as well as qualitative is used to obtain data. The data is then used to evaluate the frequency in the use of pragmatic language. In this analysis method, written speeches presented at different times are analyzed. The method is appropriate since it is free from any interference that might result from either the hearer or the speaker. As noted earlier pragmatic markers are interactive and the method used lacks interactive abilities.

The article present an analysis of the data provided and the analysis is carried out using tables and graphs. The data obtained is analyzed to obtain frequencies of distribution of discourse markers in sentences. The analysis however does not give an illustration of the intensity of use of discourse markers in a speech. In particular, the analysis does not give the section of speech where speakers are more or less pragmatic. There are different categories of pragmatic markers and they function differently depending on their origin (Fraser, 1996). The analysis however does not give a picture of the different varieties of pragmatic markers.

The findings of the analysis indicate that public speakers are the common users of pragmatic markers, which is a valid statement. The study goes on to conclude that on average three pragmatic markers are used in every one hundred words spoken by a public speaker. The figure presented in the conclusion, as the average is a realistic figure but it hold under certain conditions. The analysis however does not give the conditions under which the stated figure holds. The choice of language and therefore the use of markers are determined by several factors. Fetzer (2008) gives cognitive verb as a common discourse in political speech. There is a fact that the use of discourse depends on several factors and therefore any analysis should be fully inclusive. From the conclusion of the survey pragmatic markers as the writer suggest has functions such as giving clues and interpretation to the hearer. The writer however does not indicate the functions of pragmatic markers to the speaker.


  1. Aijmer, K., & Marie, A., & Vandenbergen, S. (eds). (2006). Pragmatic markers in contrast. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
  2. Blackmore, D. 1992. Understanding utterances. Oxford: Blackwell Publisher.
  3. Fetzer, A. (2008). The communicative function of cognitive verbs in political discourse. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 27(4), 384-396.
  4. Fraser, B. (1996). Pragmatic markers. Pragmatics 6(2), 167-190.
  5. Schiffrin, D. (1987). Discourse markers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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