The Form ‘Sasa’ as Both a Temporal Adverb and a Discourse Marker in Kiswahili
Discourse markers, which have attracted the attention of many discourse analysts offer a fascinating view on linguistic cognitive abilities. Although linguists tend to ignore their classification, discourse markers are as important as any major class words in the language. These markers play an important role in the interpretation of a discourse. This paper presents the form ‘sasa’ as both a temporal adverb and a discourse marker in Kiswahili. It examines the contexts in which the form occurs and its various functions in the discourse. The study cites evidence from both discourse analysis and pragmatics using conversation analysis and relevance theory as theoretical approaches. It is noted that although in certain cases the marker ‘sasa’ seems to have carried no propositional content the message conveyed by this marker is consequently modeled with a fixed lexical core and additional context dependent features which refer to different levels of communication. The study reveals that the form ‘sasa’ functions both as a temporal adverb and a discourse marker. Whenever it occurs as a discourse marker, it is accompanied by prosodic features such as tone, loudness and length to express emotive ideas. It has been revealed that prosodic features accompanying the discourse marker 'sasa' contain information that can disambiguate different intensions and moods of the speaker. Precisely speaking, this paper argues that the discourse marker 'sasa' can best be determined in terms of its function when one considers the role played by context and prosody.