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“Well would you believe it, I have failed the exam again”

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This paper compares the linguistic realization of coordinating and subordinating discourse relations in English and German short personal narratives, paying particular attention to the context-dependence of (1) their overt marking with discourse connectives, and (2) their adjacent and non-adjacent positioning. The analysis is based on 20 written texts collected from university students.

The use of discourse connectives with adjacently and non-adjacently positioned discourse relations is more frequent in the English data. Considering the sentence as the unit of investigation, the coordinating relations of Contrast and Result and the subordinating relation of Explanation are marked overtly throughout the English data, while coordinating Narration and Background, and subordinating Elaboration and Comment relations are marked overtly less frequently. The picture is roughly similar with clauses as units of investigation. In the German data, the use of discourse connectives is also more frequent irrespective of adjacently or non-adjacently positioned discourse relations.

Keywords: adjacency; context; discourse connective; discourse relation; granularity; personal narrative

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 26, 2018

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