Discourse Functions of Kama in Arabic Journalistic Discourse from the Perspective of Rhetorical Structure Theory

Asem Ayed Al-Khawaldeh


The study aims at examining the functions of the discourse marker Kama in the Arabic journalistic discourse in the light of Rhetorical Structure Theory (RST) proposed by Mann and Thompson (1987). To this end, the study compiled a small-scale corpus of journalistic discourse taken from two prominent Arabic news websites:  Aljazeera.net and Alarabia.net. The corpus covers three distinct sub-genres of journalistic discourse: opinion articles, news reports, and sport reports. The journalistic discourse is chosen on the basis that it is considered as the best representative of the contemporary written Arabic and it receives a wide readership in the Arabic-speaking countries. The motivation for the study is that although it is frequently used in the written form of Arabic (particularly in the language of Arabic media), the discourse marker kama is largely neglected and very few has been said about it in the present literature on Arabic discourse markers. The current findings show that kama is found to achieve 290 occurrences in the corpus under investigation. This obviously indicates that kama is commonly used in the language of Arabic journalistic discourse, which calls for paying attention to its usage in such a type of discourse. In the light of Rhetorical Structure Theory (RST) proposed by Mann and Thompson (1987), kama was found to serve four common functions: elaboration (around 50 %), similarity (around 19 %), evidence (16 %), and exemplification (13 %). Two functions of kama (similarity and   exemplification) are listed in RST while the other two are incorporated.


kama, journalistic discourse, discourse marker, rhetorical relations, corpus

Full Text:



Abdelfattah, Nabil M.S. (1996). Reflections on the sociolinguistic force of journalism in the process of language development in Egypt. In Alaa Elgibali (Ed.), Understanding Arabic: Essays in contemporary Arabic linguistics in honor of el-Said Badawi, ed. Alaa Elgibali, (pp.129-136). Cairo: The American University in Cairo.

Abdulfattah, Ashraf. (2010). A corpus-based study of conjunctive explicitation in Arabic. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Manchester.

Aijmer K. (2002). English Discourse Particles. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Alazzawie, Abdulkhaliq. (2014). The Discourse Marker wa in Standard Arabic. Theory and Practice in Language Studies. 4 (10), 2008-2015.

Al-Batal, Mahmoud. (1985). The cohesive role of connectives in modern expository Arabic text. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Michigan.

Al-Batal, Mahmoud. (1990). Connectives as cohesive elements in a modern expository Arabic text. In Mushira Eid, and John McCarthy (Ed.), Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics II, (pp. 234-266). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Al-Jubouri, Adnan. (1987). Computer-aided categorization and quantification of connectives in English and Arabic. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Aston.

Al-Hamad, Ali and Al-Zoubi, Yusif. (1993). Al muajam al-wafi fi adwat al-nahwi al-arabi. Amman-jordan: Dar Al-amal.

Al-Harahsheh, A., & Kanakri, M. (2013). The Pragmatic Functions and the Translatability of “Tayib” in Jordanian Spoken Arabic. US-China Foreign Language, 11(3), 196-202.

Al-Kohlani, Fatima. (2010). The function of discourse markers in Arabic newspaper opinion articles. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Georgetown University.

Al-Saif, Amal. (2012). Human and Automatic Annotation of Discourse Relations for Arabic. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, The University of Leeds.

Al-Shiyab, Said. (1990). The structure of argumentation in Arabic: Editorials as a case study. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Heriot-Watt University.

Al-Shurafa, Nuha. (1994). Text linguistics and cohesion in written Arabic. Art and humanties, 2 (7), 17-33.

Andersen, Gisle. (2001). Pragmatic markers and sociolinguistic variation: A relevance theoretic approach to the language of adolescents. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamin Publishing Company.

Badawi, el-Said, Carter, M. G., and A. Gully. (2004). Modern written Arabic: A comprehensive grammar. London/New York: Routledge.

Bayshak, Maryam. (1991). A study of cohesion in Arabic. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, The university of London.

Blakemore, Diane. (2002). Relevance and linguistic meaning: The semantics and pragmatics of discourse markers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Blakemore, Diane. (1987). Semantic constrains on relevance. Oxford: Blackwell.

Brinton, L. (1996). Pragmatic markers in English. Grammaticalization and discourse functions. Berlin: Mouton.

Erman, Britt 2001. Pragmatic markers revisited with a focus on you know in adult and adolescent talk. Journal of Pragmatics 33: 1337–1359.

Fraser, B. (1999). What are Discourse Markers. Journal of Pragmatics, 31, 931-952.

Fraser, B. (2005).Towards a Theory of Discourse Markers. In Approaches to Discourse Particles edited by K. Fischer. Elsevier Press.

Gill, S. K., Keong, Y. C., Bolte, S., & Ramiah, S. (2012). Ideological features of vocabulary in news reports of Malaysia’s medium of instruction change. GEMA Online TM Journal of Language Studies, 12 (3), 765-787.

Halliday, M. A. K. and R. Hasan. (1976). Cohesion in English. London: Longman.

Hamza, M. (2006). Discourse Markers in Written Arabic. Teachers’ College Researchers Journal, 1 (1), 1–252 Retrieved February 26, 2014 from http://www.basiceducation.uomosul.edu.iq.

Kammensjö, Heléne. (2005). Discourse connectives in Arabic lecturing monologue. Göteborg: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis.

Khalil, Esam N. (2000). Grounding in English and Arabic news discourse. Amesterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Co.

Knott, Alistair and Robert Dale. (1994). Using linguistic phenomena to motivate a set of coherence relations. Discourse Processes 18: 35-62.

Lenk, Uta. (1998). Marking discourse coherence: Functions of discourse markers in spoken English. Gunter Narr Verlag: Tübingen.

Lounis, Hassane. (2010). Discourse connectives in translation: a relevance-theoretic account with special reference to translation from and into Arabic. Unpublished Ph.D.

Mann, William. C., and Sandra. A. Thompson. (1988) Rhetorical structure theory: Towards a functional theory of text organization. Text 8, 243-281.

Mann, William. C., and Sandra. A. Thompson. (1987). Rhetorical structure theory: a theory of text organization. In Livia Polanyi (ed.). The structure of discourse, NewJersey: Ablex.

Mann, W. C., Matthiessen, C. M. I. M. & Thompson, S. A. (1992). Rhetorical structure theory and text analysis. In Mann, W. C. & Thompson, S. A. (Ed.), Discourse description: Diverse linguistic Analyses of a fund-raising text. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 5, 39-78.

Mann and Thomson. (2000). Toward a theory of reading between the lines: an exploration in discourse structure and implicit communication. Paper presented at 7th IPrA International Pragmatics Conference.

Mehamsadji, Mokhtar. (1988). Cohesion and text development in written Arabic. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Salford.

Müller, Simone. (2005). Discourse Markers in Native and Non-native English Discourse. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Parkinson, Dilworth B. (1991). Searching for modern fusha: real-life formal Arabic. Al-Arabiyya 24, 31-64.

Redeker, Gisela. (1991). Linguistic markers of discourse structure. Linguistics 29: 1139-1172.

Risselada, R. & Spooren, W. (1998). Introduction: Discourse markers and coherence relations. Journal of Pragmatics 30(2), 131-133.

Ryding, Karin C. (2005). A reference grammar of modern standard Arabic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Saeed, A. T., & Fareh, S. (2006). Difficulties encountered by bilingual Arab learners in translating Arabic ‘fa’ into English. The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 9(1), 19-31.

Sankoff, Gillian, Thibault, Pierrette, Nagy, Naomi, Blondeau, Hélène, Fonollosa, Marie-Odile,and Gagnon, Lucie. (1997). Variation in the use of discourse markers in a language contact situation. Language Variation and Change, 9:191–217.

Sarig, Lea. (1995). Discourse Markers in contemporary Arabic. Zeitschrift für Arabische Linguistik 30, 7-29.

Schiffrin, D. (1987). Discourse markers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Schiffrin, Deborah. (2001). Discourse markers: language, meaning and context. In Schiffrin, Deborah, Deborah Tannen, and Heidi E. Hamilton (ed.). The handbook of discourse analysis. USA: Blackwell publishers.

Schourup, Lawrence (1999). Tutorial overview: Discourse markers. Lingua, 107, 227–265.

Taboada, M. & Mann, W. C. (2006). Applications of rhetorical structure theory. Discourse Studies. 8 (4), 567-588.

Wilson, Deirdre. (2011). The conceptual–procedural distinction: past, present and future - in V. Escandell-Vidal, M. Leonetti & A. Ahern (ed.). Procedural Meaning: Problems and Perspectives, pp 3-31. Emerald, Bingley.

Zaidan, suzan. (2006). Representation of viewpoint in opinion discourse. A comparative linguistic investigation of Arabic and British newspapers at time of conflict. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, The University of Leeds.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.7n.3p.206


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2019 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.