Do hedges always hedge? On non-canonical multifunctionality of jakby in polish
One of the canonical uses of jakby in Polish is that of the Lakoffian hedge, which modifies the propositional content of an utterance by pointing to its fuzziness, inexactitude or approximation. In conversational speech the word is frequently put to excessive use, which appears to significantly deviate from the prescribed one, and as such deserves closer attention. The aim of the present study, which makes use of corpus linguistics tools to collect naturally-occurring data and discourse analysis framework to manually examine them, is twofold. Initially, it sets out to examine the linguistic contexts of jakby, which are assumed to furnish valuable guidelines for sifting out the prototypical uses of the word from the innovative ones. Next, the focus shifts onto indentifying context-sensitive functions of the latter in highly diversified stretches of discourse. The research findings demonstrate that the cotextual settings of the non-canonical jakby exhibit a number of distinctive characteristics, such as frequent co-occurrence of the word with pragmatic markers, reflexive discourse and unfilled pauses, all indicative of its relatively tenuous link with the neighbouring portions of text. As regards the functions of the unconventional jakby, the word emerges as a pragmatically multifunctional yet no longer hedging device, capable of, among others, facilitating floor-holding/-grabbing, helping to plan discourse, marking register clash and introducing elaboration on prior thought. Rich in pragmatic functions and syntactically more detached from the adjacent textual material than its canonical base, the investigated jakby appears to fit into the category of propositionally empty yet strategically salient pragmatic markers.