Editors: Mieke Vandenbroucke, Tine Defour, Bart Defrancq, Stavros Kelepouris and Jonah Rys
Discourse markers have received considerable attention over the years. This paper contributes to the growing body of studies combining Construction Grammar and pragmatics in understanding discourse behaviors and discourse markers. Using the Corpus of Contemporary American English – the COCA corpus and the Corpus of Historical American English – the COHA corpus as data source, it presents a case study of the just me construction, i.e. the use of Is it just me or… in raising a (rhetorical) question. Based on a constructional account proposed in Bai (2014), this paper mainly focuses on the pragmatic/discursive functions of the just me construction, which is shown to indicate the speaker’s subjective stance towards the propositional meaning of the utterance and to improve coherence in consideration of the truthfulness and politeness of the speech. The formal and functional properties of the just me construction feature a non-compositional structure, syntactic (and prosodic) independence, non-participation in propositional meaning and reduced semantic content, which are all key properties in defining and characterizing discourse markers (Heine 2013: 1209-1213). In conclusion, this paper proposes that the just me construction is best treated as a discourse marker.
First, this paper sets up a framework to discuss the grounding function of evidentials. Drawing on Langacker (2014), it argues that ‘source of knowledge’ is the relevant grounding domain for evidentiality, and that it bases on an immediate vs. non-immediate contrast that is also at the core of the more established grounding domains ‘reality’ (at play in moods and modals) and ‘time’ (at play in tense). The immediate value is covered by direct evidentials, the non-immediate value by inferentials and reportives. Second, the paper draws on case studies of reportive sollen-constructions and quotative present subjunctive constructions in German to illustrate grounding in terms of ‘source of knowledge’. Whereas sollen-constructions code non-immediacy to the actual ground like all indirect evidentials, the present subjunctive is found to code immediacy to a surrogate ground. This contrast is motivated by functional differences between (evidential) reportives and (non-evidential) quotatives. The non-immediate branch of the ‘source of knowledge’ domain is thus concluded to have not only an opposition between ‘inferring’ and ‘referring’ grounding predications (based on the type of “access” the conceptualiser has to the proposition), but within ‘referring’ also between ‘reportive’ and ‘quotative’ grounding predications (based on the salience of the actual ground).