Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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MULUGETA Seyoum, Academy of Ethiopian Languages and Culture, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia

This paper describes the meanings and use of some of the utterance particles in Amharic. The study will mainly focus on the two particles of Amharic, Ɂɨnde and Ɂɨkko, in relation to the relevance theory of communication (Sperber & Wilson, 1995). Relevance theory attempts to capture the notion of relevance in communicative situations through contextual effects. As Dobson (1974:4) stated, the word “particle” is frequently used to describe various kinds of morphemes in various languages. Similar to other categories, it is often difficult to label this class of morpheme. In Amharic the particle / Ɂɨnde is used to express surprise and a feeling of discontent, to ask confirmation, and to oppose or warn somebody from doing something wrong. On the other hand, the particle Ɂɨkko is used for confirmation, as a focusing device, and expressing surprise, irony or to indicate utterance. The paralinguistic features such as intonation on the particle also play an important role in conveying the attitude of the speaker. Moreover, the particles in combination express surprise and function as a focusing device. The particle Ɂɨnde is frequently used in interrogative, while the particle Ɂɨkko is used frequently in declarative constructions. However, the particles Ɂɨnde and Ɂɨkko can be used in both ways. The analysis of this paper is based on the theory of Sperber & Wilson (1995). According to the relevance theory, utterance production and interpretation are governed by a specific cognitive force, which makes us presuppose optimal relevance, that is, the derivation of adequate cognitive or contextual effects for minimal processing effort. The greater the contextual effect, the greater the relevance. According to Sperber & Wilson (1995), relevance depends on contextual effect and processing effort. This shows a clear connection between relevance and understanding. Communication is successful not when hearers recognize the linguistic meanings of utterance, but when they infer the speakers' "meaning" from it. Thus, this study discusses and analyzes the utterance particles in relation to the relevant theory.