Edited by Ritva Laury
[Typological Studies in Language 80] 2008
► pp. 179–204
The grammaticization of but as a final particle in English conversation
We examine the behavior of turn-final but in a corpus of spoken American and Australian English, proposing two hypotheses. First, the behavior of but can be modeled as a continuum from a prosodic-unit-initial to a prosodicunit-final discourse particle. Second, as but “moves” along this continuum, its conversational function changes, in a way that is consistent with what has been described in the grammaticization literature.
In both our American and Australian data, both prosodically and sequentially, speakers give evidence of taking another’s prior but-ending utterance as having been finished, but with an implication left “hanging”. However, our Australian data provide considerable evidence of Australian English “final but” having become a “fully-developed” final particle marking contrastive content.
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