Gonen, Einat, Zohar Livnat, and Noam Amir. “The Discourse Marker axshav (‘now’) in Spontaneous Spoken Hebrew: Discursive and Prosodic Features.” Journal of Pragmatics 89 (2015): 69-84.
This study describes the discursive characteristics of the discourse marker axshav (‘now’) in spoken Hebrew and explores its prosodic features using instrumental methods. This is the first attempt to use acoustical analysis to examine the prosodic aspects of discourse markers in Hebrew.
The corpus includes more than 5 h of everyday Israeli Hebrew conversations, in which 106 occurrences of the word axshav were found. More than one-third of these occurrences were identified as DMs, while the others are temporal adverbials.
The main discursive functions of the DMs identified were segmentation; accentuation of the importance of certain pieces of information, sometimes by means of comparisons and contrasts; and holding the floor.
The acoustical analysis of the performances of axshav in both functions showed that most DMs have characteristic intonation contour, including a sharp decrease in the frequency inside the second syllable. An examination of the average duration of the performance of axshav as a DM as compared to its performance as a temporal adverbial found a significant statistical difference, showing that the duration of the performance of axshav as a DM was shorter, both for the performance of the first syllable as well as the overall duration of the word. These findings seem to strengthen the hypothesis that prosodic data play a role in deciphering the function of axshav as a DM.