The other side of the coin: Towards a narrative analysis of Dogri folk tales

Writer : Devika Sharma, Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi, PhD
Year : 2022

Discourse coherence involves a multistrand phenomenon that is perpetually aided with connective elements to build a narrative. The paper explores the cohesive units that help in the formation of narrative context, thereby making them compelling and worth reading or listening to. Folk narratives consist of inclusive information that builds up the social identity of a community. In this, the cultural knowledge and community wisdom of natives play an important role in the decoding and meaning-making tales to inquire about the cohesive formation at sentence and process. The study analyses extracts collected from Dogri folk discourse level. To find out the importance of language creativity and contextual signals, the proposals of T. Givón, Bruce Fraser and George Yule are taken into consideration. The findings illustrate the active use of cohesive binders in Dogri tales. Also, the mechanisms work in varied forms to build a lucid discourse. This case study of regional tales can help popularise the culture of vulnerable societies and share the Indigenous wisdom embedded in their folk tales globally.

discourse, narratives, coherence, context, folk tales, language, society


Since time immemorial, storytelling has been a ‘practice in Indigenous cultures that sustains communities and validates the experiences and epistemologies of Indigenous peoples’ (Iseke 2013) – so much so that it is important to recognise that ‘stories can be told in many different ways: acted out on stage, in film, or on television, sung in a musical or an opera, written in a favourite book, or told orally’ (Schubert). The storytelling tradition found its prominence chiefly in literature, education, performance art and culture. Despite being a traditional practice, folklore continues to retain its significance. Generally, any piece of literature that follows a ‘length of duration and continuance of esteem’ (Johnson 1969) is called a classic. In this context, we can refer to ‘folklore’ as a classic. Through the years, various linguists and anthropologists have attended to it in their literary discourses, while producing invariant works across languages in different literary genres. Roland Barthes claims that ‘there are countless forms of narrative in the world’ (Barthes and Duisit 1975, 237). This indicates that a narrative or story is an all-pervasive cultural phenomenon, a basic foundation of human existence.

Accordingly, these discourses are central to human existence and aim at inducing morality and culture with the help of a shared set of beliefs in the community. This paper aims to navigate the contextual elements that help in the build-up of the narrative discourses of an Indo-Aryan language, Dogri. The study focuses on the Dogri tradition of storytelling, specifically folk tales, which are ‘handed on by tradition, either by word of mouth or by custom and practice’ (Taylor 1948, 216). The present research mainly interrogates the linguistic ‘alien elements’ through the lens of narratology, which is metaphorically an activity similar to walking on the tightrope that binds literature, linguistics, and cultural studies. To analyse these tales, the study makes use of a non-descriptive approach, which, in Todorov’s words, ‘will never be the description of a concrete work’ (Todorov and Weinstein 1969, 70). The common belief attributed to such a non-descriptive approach is the study of the grammar of a language; however, the present paper focuses on the role of cohesive elements that help in describing the meaningful course of action of the Dogri tales. For that, the paper addresses the following questions:

1. What are the underlying factors that characterise and formulate the basis of narratives, especially, in the select Dogri tales, how do they become community specific, displaying their linguistic features as well as their customs and beliefs?
3. What types of presuppositions are found in Dogri folk tales?
2. What role does referential coherence play in the contextual build-up of Dogri tales?
4. Why do the Dogri narratives rely on discourse markers (DMs)?
5. How do presuppositions, DMs, topic words and factors in sentence interpretation help in the build-up of Dogri stories?

The study follows the claim that any additional information that helps in the build-up of the discourse can aid comprehension of the given narrative. These relevant clues include cultural information, events or varied occurrences, reduplication, setting and so forth. For instance, the tale ‘Anmit Lekh’ (‘Indelible Fate’) makes use of reduplication chalde-chalde (while walking) to display the concurrent use of discourse and story time. Therefore, context acts as a binding force in the meaning-making process and helps the reader to better interpret the story. The study analyses folk tales and their narrative structure, using the contextual clues that help in the meaning formation and interpretation. This paper has three components: a. evaluation of narrative pattern of Dogri folk tales and analysing the available data, b. interviews to understand the enlarging culture of the Dogra community and c. analysis of the results from a survey of direct interaction and telephone interviews. The focus of the paper is, however, the Dogri folk tales and their narrative structure. The study further seeks to deeply explore the cohesive, interrelated elements, which lead to meaningful formation of the tales.

Theoretical background

An early reference to folk tales was made by Vladimir Propp in his Morphology of the Folktale. In this work, Propp discusses and compares the varied components of the folk tales and expresses their functions as an act of a character that are defined from the point of view of their significance for the course of the action (Propp, Jakobson and Dundes 1968, 19). His attempt to study the structure or morphology of the tales described a similar type of underlying formation for many stories. Unlike Propp’s work, which analysed the relation between character and plot, the present study examines the link between context and story. Apparently, another theorist, Tzvetan Todorov, focused on structural analysis of the plot of narratives and mentioned the understanding of that structure as the ‘real goal’ (Todorov and Weinstein 1969, 73). The study, implying an internal approach similar to Todorov’s study, focuses on the contextual structure, including referential coherence, presuppositions and varied DMs of the Dogri tales, to understand their importance in the meaning-making process. This structure of tales depends largely upon the creativity of language. Geoffrey Sampson defined this activity of language creativity into two forms: E-creative1 and F-creative2. This perspective is also used in regard to Dogri narratives; in this context, it is understood that the meaning extends with the aid of natives’ knowledge. This contrasts with the claim of generative linguists like Noam Chomsky (1957), who referred to language as an arrangement of finite and infinite sentences, ‘constructed out of a finite set of elements’ (Chomsky 1957, 13). The creativity in such a context holds on to the support of these finite elements that do not support extension of meanings.

However, when we look at stories, we find that creativeness lies in the extension of the previous narrative, which is the same but different from each other at the same time. For instance, ‘Snow White’, a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, has a number of versions presented to the audience across time. Despite being based on the same storyline, these versions display uniqueness, in varied forms of films, comics, series, etc. We consider such narratives creative because they display unique patterns, aided by the audience’s interest and previous knowledge and not just because they use different sentences to produce the same tale in distinct ways. This act of creativity is also explained by T.S. Eliot: ‘What happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it’. (Eliot 1975). Thus, the study focuses on analysing the Dogri tales, which proves itself to be ‘a definite realistic, artistic, and communicative process’(Amos 1971, 10) that creates, preserves and transmits cultural information across times. Because the generative linguistic theory of creativity, where language users are free to invent new words and meanings, and to modify sentences and stereotyped ideas, all in a crystallised linguistic system (Black 1968, 65), is not sufficient to weigh the importance of the folk tales, the study arranges the tales under the hypothetical category of E-creative, based on the fact that ‘speakers are by no means restricted by the generalizations […] [and] are prone to innovate with respect to the previous usage’ (Taylor 2012, 285). The meaning in the tales is thus extended, though not completely novel, as it is enriched with various myths, allusions, proverbs, idioms, etc., and assisted by the context that creates the discourse. The study uses this novel perspective to explore the structure and discourse of the folk narratives.

The referential coherence and continuity introduces referents in the form of characters, subjects and topics to activate the stored memory of the reader or listener. As one of the main strands of discourse coherence, the referential coherence maintains its integrity for several clauses (Givon 1992, 3). The clause as per the Prague school (Firbas 1966; 1974; Bolinger 1954; Halliday 1967; Kuno 1972) was divided into topic and non-topic, referring to the topic as the ‘matter of discussion’. Adding to this, Givon (1992) presented the importance of thematic coherence, comprising, referential, spatio-temporal and action coherence. Of these, when we talk about referential coherence, it does not relate to reference only, but, as Givon explains, it helps the reader or listener identify and activate the ‘mental files (nodes) where verbally coded text is started in episodic memory’ (Givon, 1992, p. 2). The memory, once stimulated, makes use of ‘zero/unstressed pronouns’ or even ‘large anaphoric gaps’, that signal the activation of the particular referent in the given discourse. For instance: Klaus loves Laura. He had always been a romantic. But with Laura it was different… The referent ‘Klaus’, once expressed, does not need to be repeated in its definite noun form to carry on the narrative. Rather, the unstressed anaphoric pronoun ‘he’ can be seen as the symbol of the activation and continuation of the same topic in the discourse. The aim of referential coherence is thus to ground the information into the hearer’s perspective (Givon 1992, 3). Similarly, such referents are searched in Dogri tales to present who and what the tale is about or is performing the action. Thus, the present study focuses on referents, in the form of cohesive elements that work in the formation of the context of the tales.

Besides the topics, the pragmatically informed presuppositions attribute non-linguistic signals to the discourse, taken as ‘an implicit assumption about the world or background belief relating to an utterance whose truth is taken for granted in discourse’ (Akmajian et al. 2017). Presuppositions are important in folk tales, as they provide clarity to the reader. To analyse the Dogri tales, the study employs the theory of George Yule, who divides them into six types:

1. In existential presuppositions, the reader or listener presupposes the narrative on the possessive. For example, ‘your bed is comfortable’ presupposes (>>) you have a bed, or in definite noun phrases, such as the village, the palace or the hill, the reader or listener presupposes that such units are ‘committed to the existence of the entities labelled or named’ (Yule 2013).
2. Factive presuppositions use verbs, e.g. accept, notice, learn, know, think, see, etc. to express that the given information is a fact.
3. Non-factive presuppositions are not true, indicating the non-factual scenario using verbs, such as like doubt, dream, assume, suspect, imagine, etc.
4. In lexical presuppositions, the reader or listener decodes the expressions used by the narratives to understand the unstated concept, for example ‘Nik stopped playing football’ >> Nik used to play football.
5. Structural presuppositions make the listener or reader believe that the provided information is exact and valid, despite it being present in the question form. For instance, ‘Where should I keep the sandwich?’ >> I have a sandwich.
6. Counterfactual presuppositions state something that stands opposite to the truth, represented with the help of an if clause. For example, ‘If I were a fairy, I would have prepared dinner in a click’ >> I am not a fairy. Yules calls these linguistic forms ‘triggers’, which act as indicators for people with relevant knowledge to decode the actual presuppositions, which adds meaning to the fairy tales. This study traces such presuppositions in Dogri tales to present how the meaning is added in the process of understanding of the narrative.

Similarly, the study focuses on the role of various DMs that link and help the discourse to flow as a meaningful entity. The study analyses these markers in the Dogri tales and further spots them by using Bruce Fraser’s taxonomy. DMs tend to occur in Dogri narratives as cohesive linkers that help natives decode the message appropriately. The importance of any element can be seen through its presence or absence. While a story cannot exist without a topic, it can without DMs. For instance:

a. Ron: I am leaving. (without DM)
b. Ron: I am leaving because I am not feeling well. (with DM)

It is clear that the first sentence does not provide any reason for Ron’s exit, but with the help of a DM, because, it is possible to provide a reason in the second sentence. Thus, a text can exist without DMs, but with its presence, it can produce impact. DMs, in the words of Fraser, establish a ‘relation between the discourse segment which hosts them, and the prior discourse segment’ (Fraser 2005, 3). To study their varied forms, he divided these markers on a semantic level into four different categories – namely, contrastive markers, elaborative markers, inferential markers and temporal markers (Fraser 2005, 15–16). Since DMs play an important role in maintaining the cohesion of the narrative, the study focuses on highlighting its importance in Dogri tales and also how its use is affected by the phonetic ability of Dogri as a tonal language.

Dogri language and its analysis

India has one of the largest selections of languages in the world, with more than 19,500 languages or dialects spoken as mother tongues (Press Trust of India 2018). Dogri is a member of the significant family of South Asian language, better known as the Indic or Indo-Aryan language. Dogri is spoken collectively by about five million people in India and neighbouring country Pakistan, chiefly in the Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, but also in northern Punjab (M.S. Jamwal 2019). The feminine word ‘Dogri’ comes from the heritage of the land ‘Duggar’, where the genetic people are named ‘Dogra’. Those who speak Dogri are collectively known as Dogras. Therefore, for the survey and understanding of the tales, the paper has focused on the particular Dogri-speaking regions of the Union Territory Jammu and Kashmir. The selected area comprises two divisions – Jammu and Kashmir Valley – and is further divided into 20 districts. Out of these, six Dogri-speaking regions have been selected in order to study the narratives of the Dogra culture. The determined regions – namely, Kathua, Jammu, Udhampur, Samba, Reasi and Ramban – have homogeneous speakers of the Dogri language, while the excluded regions have speakers of other languages like Poonchi, Poguli, Sarazi and Bhaderwahi (Shakil 2012).

The data textually analyses and interprets the discourse cohesion. The units of analysis, featuring referents, presuppositions and DMs as cohesive binders represent the narrative formation of Dogri tales. The study refers to about 50 tales, consisting of a rich tradition and culture of the Dogra community. Out of these, excerpts from a sufficient number of tales are presented to display the functions of cohesive units. The paper discusses three out of many context builders, arranging them under separate topics and subtopics to provide the detailed analysis of the tales. Also, for the translation of the Dogri fragments into English, the researchers try to retain both the sense and literal meaning of the Dogri language.

1. Referential coherence

Narratives actively use referring expressions that help grasp the attention of the reader or listener. These referents, such as participants and characters, appear and reappear in a discourse and lead to their desired outcomes (Givon 2011, 254). These referents, as important entities, are seen in abstract and concrete form. Also, their expansion into several clauses, with the assistance of topics, spatio-temporal occurrence and continuity (Givon 1992, 3), provides a contextually loaded discourse to the reader or listener. These multistrands of discourse in Dogri tales are studied by exploring various levels of representation: old to new information, sentence-discourse topic and topic continuity.

1.1 Old to new information

One of the most important aspects in understanding a tale involves the interplay of old and new information. ‘Old’ refers to the knowledge that is already given to the reader, laying ground for the ‘new’. The continuity of the text is based on this process and is equally applicable to the ‘focus’ of the story, the ‘subject or topic’. For instance, the tale ‘Tota, Maina te Gaani’ (‘Parrot, Starling and Chain’) begins with ‘Ik ha raja. Ik hi ohadi rani’ (‘There was a king. There was his queen’) (O.P. Gupta 2020, 81). This opening introduces the characters with the pattern of old to new information. The excerpt visibly introduces the ‘raja/king’ as the topic, which then becomes the old information (ohadi/his) in the next sentence. This old information further lays ground for the presentation of a new major referent: ‘rani/queen’. This way, the narrative informs the reader or listener, and meaningful interpretation takes place. To understand better, the succeeding line, ‘Rani badi sayani te praja gi pyaar karne aahli hi’(‘The queen was very wise and loving towards the subjects of the king’) (O.P. Gupta 2020, 81)presents the continuation of the narrative, based on the newly introduced referent (rani/queen), becoming ‘old’ but the focus of the further discourse. Thus, to maintain the discourse as Givon states the clause must contain ‘at least one chunk of new information’ (Givon 1992, 4) that helps in the formation of narrative and its lucid flow. The same can be seen in other tales as well (see Table 1).

1.2 Sentence-discourse topic

The narrative referents or the topics – in the form of characters, participants or subjects – can be seen as active informants on both the sentence and discourse level. The discourse level goes beyond the sentence level, and the mental activity of native readers or listeners allows them to decode both the messages simultaneously. These topics, as important referents, are both explicitly displayed on the sentence-discourse level. In Dogri tale ‘Bidh Mata’ (‘Goddess of Fate’), the narrative starts with ‘Ik ha raja ohdae koi lauad naei hi. Chadi ik kudi hi’ (‘There was a king; he had no children. Except for a daughter’) (Gopal 2020, 109). The story introduces a ‘king’ as S-topic, followed by the comment of him having no children and then the subsequent sentence introducing his only daughter. Arguably, the information provided at the sentence level is grammatically correct but sensibly wrong. The narrative at sentence level clearly states that the king is childless but has a daughter, a claim that cannot be justified by language creativity. This points towards the importance of understanding at the discursive level as well. The king here is being referred to as childless because he has no son, his subsequent heir. Although kings universally have heirs, it is not common to have only males as succeeding heirs. However, since it is a truth of a given community, the natives find no difficulty in interpreting the text at the sentence and discourse level synchronously. Additionally, while it is easy to trace ‘king’ as the S-topic, with community-specific knowledge, ‘the king with no heir’ becomes the discourse topic. Thus, the referents, with their topic-comment relationship, allow us to call them a type of E-creatives, where the meaning extends using culturally shared knowledge.

Similarly, in tale Bhaag de Lekh (Written Fate), ‘buddiold woman’3 and ‘beta-he/son’ appear as the S-Topics, followed with the comment of her son being nice but out of action. (Suman 2020a, 45). Thus, the D-Topic is ‘An Old Woman and Her Idle Son’.

1.3 Topic continuity

Once the referent appears, it continues throughout the discourse, as it is what the story is about. All the preceding and succeeding events and actions revolve around the introduced characters or participants. These might be found in the ways zero or large anaphoric gaps are arranged. Consider the following illustrations:

1. ‘Ik ha naai. Ohapne gran thama dukhi hoiye kusse shehar ich rojgaar tupane aaste niklea. Chalde chalde ik nagrae ich ussi raat pae gei’ (Suman 2020, 28). (There was a barber. He, saddened by his village, moves to some other city and starts looking for a livelihood. While on his way, he reaches a city and the night falls.)
2. ‘Ik bari koi budda ha. Ohadi janani mari gedi hi’(Sharma 2019a, 48).(There was an old man. His wife had died.)

The first two instances introduce characters, a ‘barber’ and an ‘old man’, as the topics of the story. These referents are seen continued in the succeeding sentences with the help of pronouns ‘he, his’ in the first case and ‘his’ in the second case. Gravitating towards Givon’s no-gap anaphoric pronouns, the excerpts provide the structure of the tales that rely on the topic continuation for sharing meaningful information to readers or listeners.

3. ‘Ubbi chapda chpandna piche-piche ja krda ha. Kafi chinde jaiye roliyan aaiyan. Janani roliya ch dhali te roliya tapiye ik tibbe par chadi te phi agge jaiye ik belle paase hoi. Par khasam bi balle-balle ohade piche chalda ge geya’(Smailpari 2020, 36).(He also sneaked and hid behind her. After quite a distance came a merry place. The woman entered and crossed this place, stepped on a small platform, then changed her way to move towards the other side. But the husband also slowly followed her lead.)

Apparently, the third excerpt presents the case of a large anaphoric gap, as the main topic (a man), spies on his wife, following her lead, which makes him reach a place like a carnival. The extract here mentions the topic twice, first with the pronoun ‘ubbi-he also’ and at the end with the noun ‘khasam-husband’. The interval creates a gap between the main topic, which appears after the descriptive narration of journey to the unknown destination. Also, the subject/topic, which is known for telling something about the story, is lost in between. Interestingly, the interval does not make us forget him, rather his reappearance continues the narrative with equal intensity, meaning the topics – even when not mentioned at the sentence level – often maintain their position at the discursive level.

These reasons allow us to rightly call the topics and their continuity as the fore-grounders of narratives, allowing them to build their matrix for the continuous show. Therefore, through the study of these linguistically informed folk tales, this paper traces their important role in the exchange of community wisdom and cultural knowledge from one generation to another. The role of visible characters and their invisible arrangement on the sentence and discourse level ultimately leading to their meaningful outcome. Also, it is clear that the topic-comment combination enables the reader or listener to decode the culturally loaded messages at the discursive level. The power of reference coherence was mainly discussed in three parts to elucidate the various ways of its process. The cohesion of a story can be thus proved as maintained on the basis of these referents that are produced and arranged in an appropriate way for successful transmission of messages.

2. Significance of presuppositions

A basic component required to understand the meaning of the tales is presupposition. When a person reads or listens to a folk tale, the meaning is actually formed in the mind. More broadly, as Yule (2006) and the linguists Victoria Fromkin and Robert Rodman (1983) believed, these linguistic messages are formed on the basis of assumptions that the listeners are already familiar with. Yule describes ‘a potential presupposition is an assumption typically associated with the use of a linguistic form (words, phrases, structure)’ (Yule 1995, 27). These could be seen as indicators – Yule termed them ‘triggers’ – that can be traced to understand the role of presupposition in building of the context. Following Yule’s theory, this study employs the six types of presupposition triggers found in Dogri tales.

The analysis uncovers the underlying messages of the discourse that exist in the form of ideological assumptions. Also, the table illustrates that the tales consist of all types of presuppositions. However, since the aim of the study is to show the abstract relation of context with presuppositions, it does not provide the counted occurrences or the percentage as per the individual presupposition. In other words, which one is dominant is not the matter of concern; rather, how presuppositions help in extending the meaning beyond the level of representation is the area of discussion. The analysis discusses the type of presuppositions and their triggers. This confirms that the context is built on presuppositions that stand next to the knowledge of the reader or listener. Folk tales make high use of presuppositions in different possible ways (see table 2), thereby invoking the feature of it being E-creatives.

3. DMs

DMs are the syntactic cues that link and arrange sentences in conversations and communicative narratives. DMs, as the linguist Deborah Schriffin defines them, are linguistic elements that build coherence between various units of narration (Schriffin 1987). DMs, as Fraser marks, ‘impose a relationship between some aspect of the discourse segment […] and some aspect of a prior discourse segment’ (1999, 938). The importance of DMs is not restricted to the specific discourse – rather its usage can also be found in old tales, in any language, as here in Dogri. DMs can be seen as important elements whose absence can obstruct the meaning-making process. Consider the following excerpts from Dogri tales:

1. Additive and contrastive conjunctions as DMs (And, But)

a. ‘Do brah he. Badde da naan Suraj ha te loke da Chann ha. Mau ne doa putar ikke neh ladale he ba unde sabhaein ch bada phark ha’(Jamwal 2020a, 206). (‘There were two brothers. The older boy named Suraj [Sun] and the younger Chann [Moon]. Their mother loved them equally, but there was a difference in their behaviour.’)

DMs in these examples function as both additive and contrastive markers. In its coherent function, ‘and’ signals addition or elaboration, and ‘but’ marks a ‘denial of expectations’ (Foolen 2001, 857). In the first instance, to avoid referential complexity, the text introduces the two brothers ‘Suraj-Sun’ and ‘Chan-Moon’ with the help of discourse marker ‘te-and’, which connects and adds information to the discourse. The succeeding line introduces another connective marker ‘ba-but’ that establishes the difference between the behaviour of the two brothers. Though the sentence first talks about the mother’s love for her sons, the discursive marker helps link and introduce a different discourse to show the difference in the brothers’ nature.

b. ‘Taan je charkha katde-katde mau di pith khurk hoi. Mau ne ik do bari hath marea ba udda hath uthe tagar ni puji sakya’ (Jamwal 2020a, 206). (‘When spinning the wheel, the mother felt itchy on her back. She tried scratching the place once or twice, but her hands failed to reach it.’)

Similarly, the second instance makes use of the contrastive marker ‘ba-but’, explaining the incompleteness of the aim, the mother’s attempt to scratch her back. Thus, even though the expressions of trial and error of a woman to address her discomfort stand in contrast to each other, they are lexically connected using the DM ‘ba-but’.

2. Elaborative DMs (That, Also, Besides)

a. ‘Oh sohriyan ki akhan lga je aj ge laadi toro. Sohriye bathera samjhaya je ajj mangalbar ae -mangalbaren dhii bhaen ghara nai torde’ (Dharamveer 2020, 68). (‘He started asking his in-laws that they bid their daughter today itself. The in-laws tried to make him understand that today is Tuesday – on Tuesdays, daughters, sisters do not leave their houses.’)

While ‘and’ appears to be the most popular additive marker, there are other subordinate conjunctions as well that serve a similar purpose. The excerpt introduces ‘je-that’ featuring the elaborative properties in both the sentences. The narrative uses the marker to discuss the demands of a son-in-law, who emphasises the return of his wife on a particular day. The marker further allows the reader to comprehend the reaction of his in-laws, who deny his request, also with the help of the marker ‘je-that’.

b. ‘Raja bi apni baddi kuddi Din gi mata ge hirk karda ha’ (P. Gupta 2020, 91). (‘The king also loved his elder daughter, Din, unconditionally.’)

An adverbial conjunction, ‘also’, used in the excerpt (b) serves the same purpose of adding more to the given information, and it provides us with the knowledge of the king reciprocating his love for his elder daughter.

c. ‘Kanne tugi jinae’ thake da ha je aage-piche nai jayan, par phii bi tu chali gea. Hoi sakda je hun roh chade te jin tugi mari ode’ (Devi 2020, 13). (‘Besides, the genie said that you should not go here and there, but still you did. It is a possibility that he might get angry and kill you.’)

Similarly, ‘kanne-besides’, another adverbial marker at the opening position, helps provide the additive information of what the character was not supposed to do. And since he has done it, the repercussions are marked using the contrastive marker ‘par-but’. The narrative further flows with the help of additive markers ‘je-that’ and ‘te-and’ to inform the readers about the approaching danger to the life of the character as a consequence of ignoring the warning.

3. Temporal markers (When/Then)

a. ‘Par jislae chuhe shah nae ohande-jande dou-trau janne kola puchea tan usgi kish vishwas hua’ (K.K. Sharma 2020, 45). (But when mouse king confirmed it with two to three passers-by, then he believed it a little.’)

The excerpt begins with a contrastive marker ‘par-but’ and introduces two temporal markers, ‘when’ and ‘then’. These temporal markers help tie the thread of the narrative and explain the occurrence of the action at a particular time, making it more reliable and acceptable. The anthropomorphic character, a ‘chuha-mouse’, is seen to be contemplating some information, which he confirms after talking to more people. The unacceptability is marked with the marker ‘par-but’, and the interrogation and acceptance is marked with temporal markers ‘jislae-when’ and ‘tan-then’, respectively.

b. ‘Jelle meri pehle byah aahli jannani aai tan ohade kanne hajj karne di salah banai. Par thode cheere paraint ge oh mari gai. Phi mein dua byah kita’ (Sharma 2019b, 51). (‘When my first wife came, (then) I made plans with her to visit hajj. But after some time, she died. Then, I married for the second time.’)

Similarly, the fragment introduces a man who, over a period of time, marries twice. The duration is presented with the assistance of temporal markers: ‘jelle-when’, ‘phi-then’ and ‘paraint-after’. Also, to signify the change in the scenario, the narrative makes use of the contrastive marker ‘par-but’. The specific duration of his first marriage is marked with a temporal marker, ‘paraint-after’, that also allows the story to introduce the reason for his second marriage, as his first wife had died. And to show the continuation of his life, his second marriage is also introduced with the temporal marker ‘phi-then’.

4. Inferential markers (So)

a. ‘Tus mere sacche mitar ho te migi maaf kari chodo’ (Basotra 2020b, 18). (‘You are my real friend, so please forgive me.’)
b. ‘Te Jinna oh sayana ha, inna ge oh sayane te vidwan manukha di kadar karda ha’ (Basotra 2020c, 19). (‘So, as much he was grown, as much he respected the grown-ups.’)

Both instances present the use of an inferential marker ‘so’ to add interactive attributes to the narration. The coherence built with ‘te-so’ in the first excerpt allows the narrator to join the reason with the permission for forgiveness and also enumerate the respect of the character towards others in the second sentence.

Thus, DMs serve as cohesion in narratives, without which a discourse would fail to form an impact on the audience. These connectives presented in different forms are unavoidable and are signals provided by the narrators and used by listeners to reach a common destination. The excerpts derived from the folk narratives of the Dogri language explain the orientation of DMs in a clear format. The cohesive markers provide elaborative, contrastive and temporal cues that prove them to be important context builders.


This paper studies the connective units of Dogri folk tales. The cohesion builders, such as referents, presuppositions and DMs, explain the amalgamation of creativity and native knowledge to build a discourse appropriate to community. Through Sampson’s concept of fixed and extended creatives, it becomes clear that these cohesive elements make use of native knowledge to add meaning and provide something more at the discourse level. The study further relies on Givon’s concepts to explain referential topics as important entities, as they provide the reason for discussion, explaining the whereabouts of the story. Similarly, presuppositions, largely supported by Yule’s theory, explain their role in adding something more to the discourse, and their triggers point towards concealed community-specific details. Also, the study analyses DMs, arranged as per Fraser’s taxonomy, in Dogri folk tales and finds that they act as links between the story and that their presence can impact the audience, resulting in maximum sharing of knowledge. Therefore, we can conclude that Dogri folk narratives, to maintain cohesion, depend upon the use of context builders.