Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 11. Number1 March 2020                                         Pp.154 -165

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Discourse Markers in Arabic and English Newspaper Articles: The Case of the Arabic
Lakin and its English equivalent But


Haroon N. Alsager
Department of English, College of Sciences and Humanities
Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University, Al-Kharj,  Saudi Arabia(Correspondence)

Naeem Afzal
Department of English, College of Sciences and Humanities
Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University, Al-Kharj, Saudi Arabia

  Arwa A .Aldawood
Department of English, College of Sciences and Humanities
Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University, Al-Kharj, Saudi Arabia



Discourse markers, as words or phrases, play a significant role in promoting coherent segments of discourse. This paper investigates the use of discourse markers (DMs) in newspaper articles. By applying Fraser’s framework, this study aims at investigating the functions and positions of DM but (English) and its equivalent lakin (Arabic) in newspaper articles written by native and non-native speakers of English and Saudi and Egyptian speakers of Arabic. It also highlights the similarities and differences in the functions and positions of DMs but and lakin. This quantitative study adopts a corpus-based approach. The data consist of articles collected from 12 newspapers categorized as: Arabic language newspapers published in Saudi Arabia (Alriyadh, Al Jazirah, Al-Hayat) and Egypt (Al-Ahram, Al-Gomhuria, Eltahrir) and English language newspapers published in Saudi Arabia (Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Asharq Al-Awsat) and the USA (Washington Post, The New York Times, USA TODAY).  Findings demonstrate, first, that DM but is used frequently as a confirmation or addition marker by both native and non-native speakers. However, second, lakin, functions as the primary correction DM in standard Arabic. Moreover, third, the native Arabic speakers mostly share the same functions of using lakin despite different dialects they have. This study also reveals that lakin can be found only in the medial position, whereas, but is found in the initial and medial position. It concludes that DMs but and lakin evidence that functions of DMs proposed by Fraser are universal and they could be generalized.
Keywords: Arabic and English newspaper articles, but, discourse markers, functions and positions, lakin

Cite as: Alsager, H. N., Afzal, N., & Aldawood, A. A. (2020). Discourse Markers in Arabic and English Newspaper Articles: The Case of the Arabic Lakin and its English equivalent But. Arab World English Journal, 11 (1) 154 -165.


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Dr. Haroon Alsager finished his PhD in linguistics from Arizona State University in 2017. His
research interests include syntax, historical linguistics and computational linguistics. Currently
he is an assistant professor of linguistics in Prince Sattam Bin Abdulaziz University.

Dr. Naeem Afzal currently works at the Department of English, College of Sciences and
Humanities, Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia. His research interests include
media discourse, discourse analysis, rhetoric and critical discourse.

Arwa Abdulaziz Aldawood has a Bachelor degree in English language from Sattam bin
Abdulaziz university and Master degree in English linguistics from Kangwon National
University. She is a lecturer at Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz university.