Matras makes three claims about convergence of discourse-marking systems in language contact that form the essence of his approach: first, the donor language is pragmatically dominant; second, the change leading to convergence is not only gradual but also gradational; third, there is a hierarchy of pragmatic detachability, and those DMs that are at the top of the hierarchy (i.
Matras's principle of pragmatic detachability states that elements that organize the speech event are perceived as "gesturelike, situation-bound devices and are therefore detachable from the content message of the utterance" (Matras 1998: 309).
In addition, Matras states criteria for pragmatic detachability that are based on three scales that predict which DMs are more "vulnerable" to borrowing from the pragmatically dominant language: the semantic scale; the category-sensitive scale; and the pragmatic, "operational" scale.
Alternative explanations to Matras's framework are presented here and are assessed, along with the principle of pragmatic detachability, in the subsequent sections.
An analysis of the pragmatic detachability of these DMs indicates that the discourse-marking system of PG is gradually and gradationally becoming an English-origin system, and hypothesis 3 is supported.
The DMs but/aber indicate contrast, which puts them high in pragmatic detachability in terms of the semantic scale, but they are lower on the operational scale because they are content- and not turn-related.
DMs that signal a change in speakers, or assumptions of those speakers, are, in Matras's terms, those with high levels of pragmatic detachability.
However, because y'know is frequently used in a turn-related fashion, it is high enough on the pragmatic detachability scale to be successfully incorporated into PG, although it has not managed to completely replace its German-origin counterpart.
Similarly, but's status as a contrastive conjunction would put it high on the pragmatic detachability scale, but because it is more content-related than turn-related it is only midway up in the hierarchy.