Publication details [#66622]

Parvaresh, Vahid and Sayyed Amir Sheikhan. 2019. Pragmatic functions of ‘sort of’ in Persian. A vague language perspective. Journal of Asian Pacific Communication 29 (1) : 86–110.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


It goes without saying that as a pragmatic phenomenon, vagueness has over the past few years been a topic of extensive research. However, a huge gap still exists when it comes to the investigation of how vagueness is expressed across different languages and cultures. The present study has put under scrutiny the pragmatic functions of ‘sort of’, a vague expression, in Persian conversation with a view to making cross-linguistic comparisons between different languages possible. Besides confirming the fact that the vague item ‘sort of’ enables interactants to fulfil a wide variety of functions in interactional settings, particularly in face-to-face interactions, the current study reveals that the expression in question can also serve to signal ‘a moment of awkwardness’ as well as the presence of ‘inferable information’. With the former function, ‘sort of’ signals that the speaker is experiencing a feeling of inconvenience and embarrassment. When used as an inferable information signal, however, ‘sort of’ indicates that the utterance has been inferred from the previous or current exchange.