Context Construction as Mediated by Discourse Markers
by Thanh Nyan, University of Manchester
From a Darwinian perspective, language is rooted in our neurobiology, and the process whereby interpretation is reached – in the case of argumentative sequences – is not dissimilar to that underlying action selection in response to environmental change: indeed, it arguably involves the same type of decision-making (Damasio 1994). Context construction, as construed by Nyan, corresponds to the preliminary stage of decision-making, when the changed environment needs to be categorised. What discourse markers contribute to context construction is an upgraded level of automation, whereby the degree of variation assumed to be present in the interlocutor’s processing context can be brought within a manageable range. How discourse markers influence interpretation is construed in terms of Damasio’s (2010) convergence-and-divergence zone framework.