A Comparative Study of Discourse Markers between Chinese and Thai Languages

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กัลยาณี กฤตโตปการกิต


Language usage for communication in daily life always consists of types of language symbols, which can generally be removed or omitted without affecting the syntactical structure, and understanding of, the true meaning of the sentence. Removal of these types of language symbols, on a pragmatic level, will have an effect on the discourse, specifically the coherence of the sentence, rendering the speaker’s intended meaning ambiguous. These language symbols both appear in Chinese or Thai, and are also known as Discourse Markers. This research adopted a language database created by the researcher and discourse analysis in order to analyses discourse markers in both the Chinese and Thai languages and was aimed at studying language deviations, functions and frequency rate of discourse markers spoken by Chinese and Thai native speakers, in order to find out which discourse markers are dominant. The study found that the discourse markers in both Chinese and Thai languages come from varied word classes as follows: conjunction, adverb, modal particle, pronoun, verb, interjection and phrase. In the Chinese language, the discourse markers mostly come from interjection and phrases, whereas the discourse markers in Thai language mainly come from modal particles. As language deviations of discourse markers in both the Chinese and Thai languages, there are deviations of phonology and graphology. In phonological deviation, the changes of consonant, vowel and intonation pronunciation were found, whereas in graphological deviation, the changes of omission or abbreviation and repetition. This research applied the theoretical framework of Schiffrin to study the function of discourse markers and found that the discourse markers used in Thai language had a distinct function of expressing politeness and intimacy; whereas in the Chinese language, the discourse markers were representative of the individual speaker. According to usage frequency by native speakers, this research applied the calculation from the database of over 1,000 characters and revealed that Thai native speakers used twice as many discourse markers than Chinese native speakers. From the results of the study, the researcher hopes that it will benefit in the study of discourse markers and clarify dominant features of discourse in both the Chinese and Thai languages.


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