The discourse marker nu: Israeli Hebrew impatience in interaction

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigates the nonlexical item nu, borrowed into Hebrew from European languages, particularly Yiddish and Russian. The corpus examined consists of audio-recordings of thirty casual conversations between friends and family members. Nu was found to be the second-most prevalent interpersonal discourse marker (Maschler 1994a) in this database. The tokens of nu in the corpus function (i) to hasten a nonverbal action, (ii) to urge further development within a topic, (iii) to grant permission to perform an action, or (iv) as a keying discourse marker providing a jokingl provoking tone. The relationships among these functions are explored by reference to three continua constraining the use of nu: (1) 'sequentiality', (2) 'key', and (3) 'metalanguage'. Finally, nu is discussed in relation to the often positive perception of impatience in Israeli culture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-128
Number of pages40
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003


  • Continuers
  • Impatience
  • Interpersonal discourse markers
  • Key
  • Nu
  • Urging tokens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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