Micro marker for macro conclusions: The pragmatics of the Croatian discourse marker _dakle_

Dedaic, Mirjana N.

Georgetown University, United States of America


This paper examines the Croatian discourse marker dakle considering its similarities with reformulation markers in other languages. Thus, this paper attempts to answer the questions posed by Schourup (1999) whether generalizations that have been made about English discourse markers can be carried over to other languages. Are there functions that have been overlooked in discourse markers research because of over-dependence on English?

To that aim, I analyze more than three thousand examples containing the marker dakle (‘consequently’, ‘therefore’, ‘well’, ‘so’, ‘in other words’, ‘that is’, ‘I beg your pardon!/really [now]!’, ‘it seems') collected from conversation events, media talk shows and reports, various written material, and from the Croatian National Corpus, which includes journalistic texts, essays, and fiction. I identify four principal functions of dakle: reformulational, interactional, rhetorical and the conclusional.

Reformulators are multidimensional devices whose common feature is the ability to relate the host sentence (S2) to the previous discourse (S1) in terms of representation. However, the definition and examples given for reformulations in literature suggest that reformulations frequently include the notion of conclusivity. Such a notion is manifest in either “logical or contextual implications” of S1, or a reinterpretation of the previous utterance which is not said just ‘in other words’, but rather in stronger, more concise, pointed, or specific words. This claim introduces the possibility that reformulations contribute to the illocutionary strength of the utterance. Thus, replacing dakle by, for example, drugim riječima (‘in other words’) or omitting the marker altogether lowers the saliency of the causal-resultive implication.

However, in the case of dakle, it is the conclusional function that is overarching, which brings into question even its formal classification among reformulation markers. To investigate its conclusional function, it is important to analyze segments (S1 and S2) that dakle relates. In connecting two discursive units, dakle makes it clear that the host utterance is a conclusion of S1. Furthermore, it seems that, in the case of empty S1 and S2, the marker has the capacity to convey to the hearer not only how to process the information, but also additional information about the speaker’s feelings and attitudes regarding that information.

Dakle also signals the manipulatory nature of reasoning in that it presents a conclusion as following logically from what is commonly manifest – which, in fact, might not be very ‘common’ or ‘manifest’ at all or only partly so. Given the ability to suggest the conclusion to the hearer, dakle is a proper rhetorical and argumentation marker, with frequent appearance in scholarly and legal(istic) discourses.

Finally, we can answer the question that instigated this analysis: dakle shows many common features with reformulation markers from other languages, but it combines those features with some additional ones in a unique way that reflects its use in specific discourses born in a specific society.


Schourup, Lawrence (1999) Discourse markers. Lingua 107, 227-265.

Session: Paper session
Discourse 7
Saturday, April 5, 2008, 11:00-12:30
room: 11