Functions and translations of discourse markers in TED Talks: A parallel corpus study of underspecification in five languages

Ludivine Crible*, Ágnes Abuczki, Nijolė Burkšaitienė, Péter Furkó, Anna Nedoluzhko, Sigita Rackevičienė, Giedrė Valūnaitė Oleškevičienė, Šárka Zikánová

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Discourse markers are highly polyfunctional, particularly in spoken settings. Because of their syntactic optionality, they are often omitted in translations, especially in the restricted space of subtitles such as the parallel transcripts of TED Talks. In this study, we combine discourse annotation and translation spotting to investigate English discourse markers, focusing on their functions, omission and translation equivalents in Czech, French, Hungarian and Lithuanian. In particular, we study them through the lens of underspecification, of which we distinguish one monolingual and two multilingual types. After making an inventory of all discourse markers in the dataset, we zoom in on the three most frequent and, but and so. Our small-scale yet fine-grained corpus study suggests that the processes of underspecification are based on the semantics of discourse markers and are therefore shared cross-linguistically. However, not all discourse marker types nor their functions are equally affected by underspecification. Moreover, monolingual and multilingual underspecification do not always map for a particular marker. Beyond the empirical analysis of three highly frequent discourse markers in a sample of TED Talks, this study illustrates how translation and annotation can be combined to explore the multiple facets of underspecification in a monolingual and multilingual perspective.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-155
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • discourse markers
  • sense annotation
  • TED Talks
  • translation
  • underspecification


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