Using a discourse adverb to correct expectations an analysis of mak in Iraqw

an analysis of mak in Iraqw


  • Amy Catling Leiden University
  • Maarten Mous Leiden University


adverb, discourse, Iraqw, Cushitic, Tanzania, expectation management, verbal adverb, narrative structure


The discourse verbal adverb mak was initially defined as both indicating stance and having the pragmatic function of hedging. In a further analysis using a corpus of Iraqw literature, this paper shows the function of the verbal adverb in Iraqw storytelling and proposes that mak is not related to stance. Instead, it was found that the verbal adverb acts at the discourse level highlighting an important aspect of a story, by organising contrasting information. In doing this, an Iraqw narrator has the ability to prevent audiences from making conclusions about a situation, by using mak to alert that more information is yet to come. This thorough analysis includes a comparison to five verbal adverbs that mak was initially grouped with (tsuwa,, lák, ák and alge), provides further insight into the functions of verbal adverbs, and a deeper understanding into the possible styles of storytelling from around the world