Temporal Deictic Adverbs as Discourse Markers in Hebrew, Aramaic and Akkadian
Alexey Lyavdansky (Institute for Oriental and Classical Studies, RSUH (Moscow), andurar@gmail.com)
Journal of Language Relationship, № 3, 2010 - p.22-42
The categorial shift from temporal deictic adverb to discourse marker is observed in many languages of the world. There are three Semitic languages — Hebrew, Aramaic, and Akkadian — where similar developments were attested for a temporal adverb with present time reference. This article is dedicated to the comparison of non-adverbial usages for Hebrew (wǝ)ʕattā, Aramaic kʕt/kʕnt/kʕn and Akkadian inanna and anumma. The preliminary results of this investigation, based on the findings of Rhetorical Structure Theory and discourse markers research, show that in most of the uses these adverbs function as discourse markers. As is the case with Hebrew (wǝ)ʕattā, the specific discourse function is attested also for Aramaic kʕt/kʕnt/kʕn and Akkadian inanna: an adverb with the meaning ‘now’ marks a transition from assertive discourse unit to directive discourse unit within directive utterances. The range of usage for Aramaic kʕt/kʕnt/kʕn and Akkadian inanna is broader than for Hebrew (wǝ)ʕattā. Akkadian anumma is another type of lexeme: not being used as a temporal deictic adverb, it also appears in directive utterances, but, unlike Hebrew (wǝ)ʕattā and Aramaic kʕt/kʕnt/kʕn, it usually has an assertive discourse unit in its right co-text, the transition from assertive to directive usually left unmarked.
Keywords: Semitic languages, historical syntax, discourse relations, discourse markers