Discourse marker nah in colloquial Jakartan Indonesian: The information flow

Authors: Rika Mutiara (Esa Unggul University, Indonesia)
Speakers: Rika Mutiara
Strand: Text, Context and Entextualization
Session Type: General Session


The functions of discourse marker nah are introducing a new topic, indicating a transition, and concluding (Ewing, 2005; Sneddon, 2006). They are closed to the process of giving information in a coherent discourse. However, the previous studies do not discuss in detail how the information flows in discourse level. To create meaningful discourse, grammar plays an essential role. Studies on Indonesian in discourse level is scarce (Englebretson, 2003). The present study aims at finding how nah is used to construct the discourse in giving information. It, moreover, examines what grammatical structure co-occurs with nah. There are 28 utterances with nah taken from the YouTube food review videos spoken in colloquial Jakartan Indonesian. The data were examined to see any grammatical patterns exist and how the information flow with turn construction unit as the basis of discourse analysis.

The discourse-framing functions such as introducing the topic, signal that the information given is not finished yet before raising the discussion of another aspect of the topic, and closing the discussion of particular topic were found. In declaratives, 17 utterances of nah co-occur with demonstrative ini (this) such as Nah, ini yang nutella (Nah, this is the one with nutella). In this construction, the speakers pinpoint the important object to be the focus of information. This is the preface of objects’ description and evaluation in which detailed information is given. In declaratives with non-demonstrative structure, whether nah is used as preface or not may vary. It, even, is used in closing the discussion. In closing, the speaker of nah gives information as an answer as in Nah, karna lu diaduk (Nah, because yours is mixed). In declaratives, the speakers keep giving more information than the hearers in the following utterances. They are the main source of information. Mostly the hearers’ responses are alignment.

Out of four questions, only one question with nah is a polar one. The others are non-polar questions in which the speakers ask information. Asking some questions indicate that the speakers tend to be the initiators of discussing new objects. The speakers direct the hearers to give information about new objects should be given next.

Keywords: Discourse marker, Indonesian, Information flow.