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On the Use of the Aspects, Independent Personal Pronouns, Fillers, and Attention Grabbers in Algerian Arabic Oral Narratives

On the Use of the Aspects, Independent Personal Pronouns, Fillers, and Attention Grabbers in Algerian Arabic Oral Narratives

Abstract

This paper examines, via microlinguistic or micropragmatic textual analysis, the use of the perfect and imperfect aspects, independent personal pronouns, so-called fillers, and attention grabbers, among other interrelated topics related to information flow, in two Algerian Arabic (AA) oral narratives: the first of a mother, and second a father (both from the city of Tbessa, located south of Constantine and close to the Tunisian border) talking to their daughter describing events that occurred in the past. One conclusion offered from an investigation of these stories is that the imperfect contributes to the ‘immediacy’ of the narratives in that they are ‘made’ to take place in the here and now, although the monologue refers to events which have already taken place. This traditional analysis affirms that it is as if the past in the narrative is brought into the present in which it is being told. 1 This is similar to English: ‘So he says to me — he says …’, in which ‘says’ really means ‘said’. 2 Another conclusion is that AA can use the perfect that must be translated, according to the context, with the English present tense: fhǝmti ‘(Do) you understand?’ = ‘(You) see what I'm saying?’ (and not ‘You saw what I'm saying?’). Repetition is another major ingredient of this discourse 3 (see Johnstone (1991), although none of the examples in this book are from colloquial Arabic dialects), and many examples of this phenomenon can be adduced in the AA texts that follow.
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