Conversational discourse markers in stand-up comedy: you know and sabem

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In this study, conversational discourse markers (e.g. well, you know, bem, sabes, etc.) are seen as a genre parameter of stand-up comedy, i.e. a characteristic trait that constitutes the genre’s identity (Coutinho 2007). This assumption is based on the fact that stand-up comedy is typically described as a conversational, intimate form of art (Attardo 2001; Brodie 2014; Double 2014; Rutter 1997; Greenbaum 1999), and, therefore, similar to any interactive spoken practice, it is rich in discourse markers.Assuming that discourse markers function on two levels, the textual and the interpersonal level (Halliday 1976, 2014; Brinton 1996; Erman 2001; Schiffrin 1987; Fischer & Drescher 1996; Östman 1981), the study seeks to analyze the functional range of you know and sabem within these two levels in the genre of stand-up in American English and European Portuguese.The nature of the textual and interpersonal functions identified in the course of the textual analysis is predominantly literature-based (mostly, Brinton 1996). However, new functions were also found: three new functions of you know (e.g. to anticipate a shift between direct/indirect modes of speech, to signal personal experience and to address the audience) and one new function of sabem (to signal personal experience). These newly emerging functions are closely related to the specificity of the genre stand-up comedy, namely, its narrative, autobiographical and interactive nature, respectively. This conclusion indicates a direct relationship between genre and discourse markers’ configuration.The study is based on both English and Portuguese corpora of recorded and transcribed performances. Each corpus consists of 25 transcripts, which correspond to comedian’s individual performances. The transcripts comprise a total of around 80,000 words. All the samples were organized according to specially elaborated transcription conventions (based on Discourse Transcription, Dubois, 1991, 2004; C-ORAL-ROM Project and CHAT Transcription Format, MacWhinney, 2000).
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventMarcadores Discursivos: o Português como Referência Contrastiva - Porto, Portugal
Duration: 13 Dec 201814 Dec 2018


ConferenceMarcadores Discursivos: o Português como Referência Contrastiva


  • Discourse markers
  • Stand-up comedy
  • Genre


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