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The discourse marker órale in Mexican Spanish: A pragmatic and sociolinguistic approach.pdf

posted on 29.04.2022, 16:12 by Elisa Camps TroncosoElisa Camps Troncoso


The present study describes the pragmatic functions and the social meaning of the discourse marker (DM) órale. Órale is a recognized and salient DM in Mexican Spanish (Mejía-Gómez, 2008; Mendoza-Denton, 2011; Navarro, 2005), but research on its pragmatic meanings and use in interaction and society is minimal. Considering previous literature on discourse markers and descriptions of órale, two research questions were addressed to examine the pragmatic and sociolinguistic uses of órale: (1) What are the pragmatic functions of órale? and (2) Do gender, age, and educational level affect the use of órale? By answering these research questions, the current investigation represents the largest and most systematic analysis of órale to date, and it offers both pragmatic and sociolinguistic understandings. 

The analysis considered all 189 órale tokens in the Corpus Sociolingüístico de la Ciudad de México (CSCM) (Butragueño & Lastra, 2011–2015)[1]. The pragmatic analysis relied on an iterative approach, using open coding and axial coding (Corbin & Strauss, 1990). In addition, it relied on the triangulation of prior descriptions of órale, turn position, and the speakers’ positioning in the social narrative. For the sociolinguistic analysis, descriptive statistics and statistical models were used to understand the effect of gender, age, and education on órale in general and its different functions.

Results indicated three discourse functions of órale (i.e., exhortation, affirmation, reorientation), each with two subfunctions. Exhortation functions appeared in first pair part positions (i.e., initiating) and aided speakers in positioning as authoritative. Affirmation functions were in second pair part positions (i.e., responsive) and reflected a more agreeable positioning, and reoriention functions were turn­ medial. Quantitative analysis of the distribution of órale indicated that affirmation was the most frequent function, followed by reorientation and then exhortation. Regarding the sociolinguistic variables, a quasi-Poisson regression model and multinomial logistical models revealed that gender had a statistically significant effect on órale use, in that men used the DM more than women. In addition, in the analysis of the effect of the social categories on function of órale, education had a significant effect. The middle educational level relied more on órale for affirmation compared to other functions than the other groups. The interaction between social categories and functions was discussed with respect to the findings related to gender and level of education.

A main contribution of this investigation was the typology of the pragmatic functions of órale. The analysis was sufficient to explain all data and more economical than some prior descriptions. Furthermore, the proposed typology relies on a triangulation of pragmatic function, turn position, and the positioning made by the speaker, which taken together provide validity to the analysis. Other contributions were the distribution of the functions of órale in discourse and among social categories. In addition, a theoretical contribution was made by the proposal of the core meaning, leading to more precise understanding of órale


[1] The CSCM is a balanced corpus of 108 interviews with men and women across three social classes and three age groups. Interviews addressed thematic modules, including life threatening situations.


Degree Type

Master of Arts


Languages and Cultures

Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Lori A. Czerwionka

Additional Committee Member 2

Felicia D. Roberts

Additional Committee Member 3

Daniel J. Olson