Stance-taking via ya′ani/ya′anu: A discourse marker in a Hebrew-Arabic language contact situation

Michal Marmorstein, Yael Maschler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We explore two stance-taking patterns in casual Hebrew conversation involving ya′ani/ya′anu, a discourse marker originating in colloquial Arabic. In the first, ya′ani/ya′anu, the same as Arabic yani (lit. 'it means'), frames reformulations of prior discourse serving to enhance interpersonal involvement and mutuality regarding the interlocutor's stance toward what has been said, thereby constructing intersubjectivity. The second pattern consists of a prosodic variant, ya′ani/ya′anu, functioning as a double-voiced ironic hedge. The latter is an innovation of Hebrew, brought about by its functional association with Hebrew ke′ilu 'like'. The two uses of ya′ani/ya′anu elucidate two different processes that discourse markers in language contact situations may undergo: Persistence of lexically motivated metalingual meaning, and extension of lexically unmotivated meaning. The considerably low frequency of ya′ani/ya′anu vis-à-vis ke′ilu is explained by its devaluated social meaning in current Israeli discourse, as an index of nonhegemonic religious and ethnic groups such as Arabs and Mizrahi Jews.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
JournalLanguage in Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Cambridge University Press.


  • (re)formulations
  • Discourse markers
  • indexicality
  • intersubjectivity
  • irony
  • language contact
  • metalanguaging
  • stance-taking


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