The current paper aims to investigate the distinctions in meaning between two prototypical markers of contrast in Modern Greek, i.e. alla and ma, from a relevance-theoretic viewpoint. At first sight, the two markers seem freely interchangeable across contexts, creating the impression that they basically share the same meaning. However, a more careful exploration of the contextual occurrences of these markers unravels their finely grained distinctions in meaning. This type of exploration requires a detailed categorization of the types of context that license or preclude the application of the markers at hand. In this sense, specific contexts highlight aspects of interpretation that motivate the use of one of the markers but not the other. Specifically, as it turns out, while the use of alla is chiefly associated with contexts of procedural elimination, in standard relevance-theoretic terms, the use of ma is justified in relation to expressing the speaker’s attitude of surprise to a contextual assumption constructed by the hearer, in addition to effecting procedural elimination. In this sense, ma proves to encode a dual constraint on the implicitly communicated content of an utterance, explained univocally in procedural terms.
Abraham Wernre. 1979. But. Studia Linguistica 33: 89–119.
Anscombre Jean-Claudeand & Oswald Ducrot. 1977. Deux mais en français? Lingua 43: 23–40.
Babiniotis Georgios. 1998. Λεξικό της Νέας Ελληνικής Γλώσσας [Dictionary of Modern Greek Language]. Athens: Centre of Lexicology.
Bardzokas Valandis. 2012. Causality and Connectives: From Grice to Relevance. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Bardzokas Valandis. 2013. The semantics and pragmatics of causal connectives: conceptual and procedural aspects of Modern Greek γiati and epeiδi. In I. Kecskes & J. Romero-Trillo (eds.) Research Trends in Intercultural Pragmatics 29–54. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
Bardzokas Valandis. 2014. Linguistic constraints on causal content: the case of Modern Greek markers. Journal of Pragmatics 60. 160–174.
Bardzokas Valandis. 2015. Correction-but: a relevance-theoretic reappraisal. Language and Communication 45: 27–45.
Bach Kent. 1999. The myth of conventional implicature. Linguistics and Philosophy 22: 262–283.
Blakemore Diane. 1987. Semantic Constraints on Relevance. Oxford: Blackwell.
Blakemore Diane. 2002. Relevance and Linguistic Meaning: The Semanticsand Pragmaticsof DiscourseMarkers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Carston Robyn. 2002. Thought and Utterances: The Pragmatics of Explicit Communication. Oxford: Blackwell.
Carston Robyn. 2004. Explicature and semantics. In S. Davis & B. Gillon (eds.) Semantics: A Reader 1–44. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Carston Robyn. 2008. Linguistic communication and the semantics/pragmatics distinction. Synthese 165: 321–345
Carston Robyn. 2009. Relevance theory: Contextualism or pragmaticism? UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 21: 19–26.
Fraser Bruce. 1990. An approach to discourse markers. Journal of Pragmatics 14: 383–395.
Fraser Bruce. 1999. What are discourse markers? Journal of Pragmatics 31: 931–952.
Fraser Bruce. 2006. On the conceptual-procedural distinction. Style 40: 24–29.
Georgakopoulou Alexandra & Dionysis Goutsos. 1998. Conjunctions versus discourse markers in Greek: The interaction of frequency positions and functions in context. Linguistics 36: 887–917.
Goutsos Dionysis. 2009. Μόρια δείκτες λόγου και κειμενικά επιρρήματα: Η οριοθέτηση των γλωσσικών κατηγοριών με τη χρήση Ηλεκτρονικών Σωμάτων Κειμένων [Discourse particles discourse markers and discourse adverbials: using the Electronic Corpus of Greek Texts to delineate language categories]. Proceedings of the 8th International Conference of Greek Linguistics University of Ioannina: 754–768.
Goddard Cliff. 2006. Ethnopragmatics: A new paradigm. In C. Goddard (ed.) Ethnopragmatics: Understanding Discourse in Cultural Context 1–30. Berlin/New York: Mouton De Gruyter.
Grice Paul. 1989. Studies in the Way of Words. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.
Hall Alison. 2007. Do discourse connectives encode concepts or procedures? Lingua 117: 149–174.
Iten Corinne. 2005. Linguistic Meaning Truth Conditions and Relevance: The Case of Concessives. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Kitis Eliza. 1982. Problems Connected to the Notion of Implicature. PhD thesis University of Warwick.
Kitis Eliza. 2000. Connectives and frame theory; the case of hypotextual antinomial ‘and’. Pragmatics and Cognition 8: 357–409.
Kitis Eliza. 2010. Semantics: Meaning in Language. Thessaloniki: University Studio Press.