Pragmatic Marker ILI TAM (‘or something’): A Friend Among Foes, a Foe Among Friends

2021. № 1, 22-36

ITMO University (Russia, St. Petersburg),


The article discusses the functions and features of a pragmatic marker used in spontaneous spoken speech – ili tam (‘or something’). The model of formation of this marker is similar to the model of reflexive markers formation – ili kak jego/jeyo/ikh, ili kak eto, ili chto (‘or how do you call it’), etc. However, as opposed to reflexive markers, the unit ili tam, as shown in the article, has a fundamentally different function in spoken speech – a hesitative and approximative function. In the spontaneous spoken speech, along with the hesitative function, the marker ili tam gives to the fragment of an utterance, which is being formulated, the approximative meaning, partially as a marker-approximator. In contrast to reflexive markers with a similar structure, the analyzed marker does not have a form of a rhetorical question, and it cannot be placed at the end of a sentence. It’s used as a filler of hesitation pause when searching for the possible continuation of speech. The features of marker usage in spontaneous spoken speech are analyzed on the material of two corpora – the corpus of dialogues “One Day of Speech” (ORD) and the corpus of monologues “Balanced Annotated Text Library” (SAT). In the article, the need for consistent context analysis of marker usages is demonstrated in order to define precisely its functional and formal features.

For citation:

Zaides K. D. Pragmatic Marker ILI TAM (‘or something’): A Friend Among Foes, a Foe Among Friends. Russian Speech = Russkaya Rech’. 2021. No. 1. Pp. 22–36. DOI: 10.31857/S013161170013901-0.


This research is supported by the grant of Russian Science Foundation, project № 18-18-00242 “A system of pragmatic markers of Russian everyday speech”.