Discourse and grammaticalization of contrastive markers in Taiwanese Southern Min: A corpus-based study

Miao Hsia Chang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This paper aims to explore the semantic-pragmatic functions and syntactic patterning of contrastive markers (CM) in Taiwanese Southern Min (TSM). Mkoh, tansi, putko and sikong are classified as conjunctive CMs, and kisit, koh/iaukoh, tianto and iausi as non-conjunctive CMs. It is found that recurrent patterns of CMs in discourse have yielded reinterpretations that are sensitive to the sequentiality, communicative intent and the dynamics of interaction. Generally speaking, the closer a CM is to the clause matrix, the more it is used for propositional contrast, while the more peripheral a CM is, the more likely it is to take on a metalinguistic interpretation. Sikong is a newly evolved epistemic marker that signals mild contrast and the speaker's puzzlement. Kisit is addressee-oriented and corrects an assumption made by the addressee. Tianto is message-oriented and asserts a proposition with a tone of certainty. Koh and iaukoh, in addition to their referential reading, signify the speaker's strong emotional state and are frequently used for underscoring a dissociating speech act. Iaukoh, in particular, denotes an addressee-oriented contrast to achieve an argumentative, reproaching or contentious effect. Iausi is a verb complex used to foreground an ensuing predicative statement and suggests a tone of compliance and concession.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2114-2149
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Dec


  • Contrastive markers
  • Counter-expectation
  • Grammaticalization
  • Pragmatically motivated interpretation
  • Taiwanese Southern Min

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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