Contrastive Discourse Markers in Saudi English Learners


Expressing negation through conversational exchanges can serve many functions (Gönen, 2011). An actual engagement of EFL Saudi interlocutors in a conversational exchange to negate can clearly reflect their inadequate knowledge of the pragmatic functions of CDMs in spoken discourse (Lewis, 2011). The way they frequently negate, by means of either directly stating “NO” or affixing the word “NOT” to auxiliaries and modals (Min, & Yan, 2012). They do this expecting that they have successfully carried out a pragmatic contrastive function, which can in effect show how Saudi EFL learners are unaware of the various pragmatic functions of CDMs (Shanru, 2011; Williams, 2010). In Arabic there are two patterns of making opposites e.g. prefix ghair (that means non or not) (Amador-Moreno, 2012). Besides, the recurrent and limited usage of the DM “No” could be as some studies revealed it have a relatively narrow range of uses (Jianfeng, 2012); Lam, 2010), or explicitly concentrated on one or two uses (Karaata, Çepik & Çetin, 2012). The flexibility of English discourse necessitates that EFL learners grasp a variety of devices in expressing negation in different ways to perform various functions (Modhish, 2012). Besides, the topic will elaborate on the pragmatic functions, which CDMs can carry out, but have not, received considerable attention in the literature. It will offer a recommended approach of the ways in which the teaching of English oral discourse can develop to meet the current ongoing changes in the scope of English discourse (Btoosh & Taweel, 2011).

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Research problem

There are many signals, which indicate the insufficient knowledge of the use of various pragmatic functions of CDMs in oral discourse. This shows upon engaging in a conversational exchange, where an interlocutor negates a lot of Saudi EFL learners employing a very limited number of contrastive markers, namely, no or not and sometimes but. Therefore, this proposal suggests an in-depth analysis of discourse contrastive markers. The research paper is going to answer the question of “What are the key contrastive markers of oral English discourse, their pragmatic functions in oral discourse, how are they taught and how are they used by Saudi EFL learners?” Providing answers for the given question is the core aim of the proposal.

Research questions

  • What are the key contrastive makers of oral English discourse?
  • What are the pragmatic functions of CDMs in oral discourse?
  • How are CDMs taught is Saudi classrooms?
  • How are Saudi EFL learners using CDMs?


The inefficient instructional approach of CDMs in spoken discourse accounts for the unawareness of EFL learners about the various pragmatic functions of CDMs. As a result, learners can figure out the connective function of using different CDMs in written discourse without actual employment of various CDMs upon undertaking a conversational exchange.

Objective of the study

This study aims at investigating the pragmatic functions, of English contrastive discourse markers (CDMs). This will be in line with its teaching by teachers and learning by learners in EFL Saudi classrooms. Besides, its object is the illustration of the communicative functions of contrastive discourse markers in an attempt to illuminate a developmental approach for the current teaching methodologies of English oral discourse as used in Saudi classrooms. As such, providing answers for the above-mentioned research questions is the core aim of the proposal. However, it is necessary to indicate that there will be scrutiny of a number of objectives for the exhaustion of the research topic.

Significance of the study

The study will address an in-depth analysis of important elements of discourse such as contrastive markers. It will highlight the properties of CDMs based on naturally occurring data. The findings of my proposed research will be of a great help to both EFL teachers as well as learners in Saudi classrooms. With respect to teachers, remarkable attention will be provoked to teaching discourse for communicative purposes. Respectively, EFL Saudi learners will consider learning how to correctly interpret and relate to negative utterances in conversational exchanges, as well as establish coherent and relevant discourse to fulfill their communicate needs.

Limitation of the study

Misinterpreting the contextual uses of CDMs in oral discourse is more likely to be faced. As such, the importance of mapping the pragmatic functions of English CDMs in oral discourse arises. Literature on the same topic is also inadequate and that may not give enough room for effective exploration of the topic.

Operational definitions of terms which should define CDMs in examples

The interpretation of CDMS occurs in the statuses presented by dialect in arguments and conversations. Examples are in the form of encodes of complete messages, lexical expressions with intonations and stress. The second form occurs when S1 and S2 form a single discourse of contiguous segments. It also takes place when there is encoding of complete messages by S1 and S2. Other identification of examples occurs with placement of LE prior to the second segment. Lastly, DM signals occur in the presence or absence of semantic relationships holding discourse segments. These are significant for defines properties of DM. other than the lexical expressions, which take place between existing relationships, there are other properties identifiable within linguistic levels. These are Phonological Properties, Morphological Properties and Syntactic Properties

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There will be a thorough investigation to tap on the various pragmatic functions, which convey in spoken discourse by means of CDMs undertaken. There will be a sample of 33 freshmen students of Arab nationality. They will be randomly selected from different University departments for the Study of negation in speech. There will be 22 females and 11 males for the study. They will be placed in groups and that will create a cohesive relationship because the students will be able to select group members they can be comfortable being around during discussions. They will have group discussions from, which there will be a 200-minute audio recording. The recording of the ESL students will be transcribed for later analysis following the degree of recordings of negation. There will be presentation and analysis of samples of natural oral discourse for a number of EFL learners to ascertain the learners’ insufficient knowledge of the pragmatic functions of CDMs. There will also be a qualitative report of reviews of existing literature on pedagogical ways of teaching CDMs. There will be a report of findings and conclusions.


Amador-Moreno, C. P. (2012). A corpus-based approach to contemporary Irish writing: Ross O’Carroll-Kelly’s use of like as a discourse marker. International Journal Of English Studies, 12(2), 19-38.

Btoosh, M. A., & Taweel, A. Q. (2011). Contrastive Rhetoric: Inflation, Verbal Voices and Polyphonic Visibility in Learners and Native Speakers’ Academic Writing. Asian EFL Journal, 13(3), 205-228.

Gönen, S. (2011). A Neo-Humean Analysis of Turkish Discourse Markers “ama” and “fakat”.Journal Of Graduate School Of Social Sciences, 15(1), 253-278.

Jianfeng, Z. (2012). Discourse Markers in College English Listening Instruction: An Empirical Study of Chinese Learners. English Language Teaching, 5(3), 46-61. Web.

Karaata, C., Çepik, Ş., & Çetin, Y. (2012). Enhancing the Use Of Discourse Markers In Academic Writing: The Combination Of Incidental Acquisition And Explicit Instruction. Electronic Journal Of Social Sciences, 11(40), 11-29.

Lam, P. Y. (2010). Toward a functional framework for discourse particles: a comparison of well and so. Text & Talk, 30(6), 657-677. Web.

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Lewis, D. M. (2011). A discourse-constructional approach to the emergence of discourse markers in English. Linguistics, 49(2), 415-443. Web.

Min, L., & Yan, X. (2012). A Comparative Study on the Use of the Discourse Marker “Well” by Chinese Learners of English and Native English Speakers. International Journal Of English Linguistics, 2(5), 65-71. Web.

Modhish, A. (2012). Use of Discourse Markers in the Composition Writings of Arab EFL Learners. English Language Teaching, 5(5), 56-61. Web.

Shanru, Y. (2011). Investigating Discourse Markers In Pedagogical Settings: A Literature Review. Annual Review Of Education, Communication & Language Sciences, 895-108.

Williams, I. A. (2010). Cultural differences in academic discourse: Evidence from first person verb use in the methods sections of medical research articles. International Journal Of Corpus Linguistics, 15(2), 214-239.

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"Contrastive Discourse Markers in Saudi English Learners." StudyCorgi, 16 Dec. 2020,

1. StudyCorgi. "Contrastive Discourse Markers in Saudi English Learners." December 16, 2020.


StudyCorgi. "Contrastive Discourse Markers in Saudi English Learners." December 16, 2020.


StudyCorgi. 2020. "Contrastive Discourse Markers in Saudi English Learners." December 16, 2020.


StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Contrastive Discourse Markers in Saudi English Learners'. 16 December.

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