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Movement Verbs as Discourse Markers in Spanish: The Case of Vamos in the City of Granada, Spain

Natalia Ruiz-González
Departamento de Lengua Española, University of Granada, 18011 Granada, Spain
Languages 2021, 6(4), 156;
Submission received: 7 June 2021 / Revised: 20 September 2021 / Accepted: 22 September 2021 / Published: 29 September 2021


The discourse marker vamos is the first-person present indicative plural of the verb ir (“to go”) and acts as a guide throughout the discourse. We studied its use in the PRESEEA corpus of Granada, analyzing 54 interviews and rescuing 270 occurrences of vamos. Mainly, we detected that its use was higher in the speech of people with only a primary education, while its use among the university educated represented 27% of cases. It was also used more frequently by young people, particularly females, although only age was found to be influential because of the intrinsic and original value of the first-person plural form, by which speakers are integrated and form part of a group. Among the pragmatic values of the marker is its use as a reformulator in more than 60% of cases; 22% as a structurer that helps to continue and conclude the discourse; and approximately 13% when used as a modalizer to convey the speaker’s attitude. Its main linguistic characteristic is its appearance preceded by conjunctions such as pero and y, and its main position is initial, as it accounts for 90% of occurrences.

1. Introduction

In this work, we studied the pragmatic behavior and social distribution of vamos in Granada (Spain). We used the PRESEEA (Project for the Study of Spanish in Spain and America) corpus from this city since we understand that any choice of a marker, similar to that of any other linguistic phenomenon, is conditioned by the speaker’s belonging to a specific sociolect (Cortés [1998] 2008).
Furthermore, although the study of discourse markers is unquestionably growing, regarding their definition and classification, analysis of their distribution in oral discourse is still rare. Therefore, our interest lies in finding out how these elements are diatopically and diastratically organized (Carbonero and Santana 2010).
According to the theory of relevance by Martín Zorraquino and Portolés (1999), vamos is one of the so-called “otherness focusers”, markers that point towards the listener and sometimes also towards the sender. These can introduce all types of utterances and frequently appear with exclamatory modulation, although Portolés ([1998] 2014), speaking from the theory of argumentation, defines it as a reformulator. This type of unit returns to a previous part of the discourse to clarify and qualify it because the speaker considers it not to be very comprehensible or not in line with his/her communicative intention. The reformulator element is the one that the listener has to take into consideration when interpreting the sender’s speech.
Verbs of movement are a very influential source of discourse marker production in our language, especially in the Spanish of Spain, where forms such as vamos, venga, vaya, or anda are often used to respond or react to the words of our interlocutor or ourselves (Tanghe 2016). We consider it to be a polyfunctional particle in the corpus, capable of expressing different pragmatic functions.

Objectives and Hypothesis

Our main objective is to analyze the sociopragmatic functions of the discursive marker vamos in the city of Granada. This will allow us to discover whether there is a dependency relationship between its frequency and the social characteristics of the speakers of this Andalusian city. Likewise, we intend to observe which pragmatic functions vamos occupies, in which type of discourse sequences (narrative, descriptive, expository, argumentative, or dialogical) is its use most frequent, what kinds of units it usually appears with in a sentence, and what the most recurrent position of the discourse marker is.
As a starting hypothesis, we considered that vamos is mainly used by speakers with a primary education to gain the favor of their interlocutor. Furthermore, we estimated that it is a particle that is preferably used by young speakers, as we believe that its use is relatively recent. Moreover, we did not think that gender would be relevant, as has already been shown in similar work in Granada (Montoro 2011; Ruiz 2018). In addition, we thought that its use would be more frequent as a conversational particle in a dialogical context when the speaker reacted to what was said by its interlocutor. We also thought that its presence with the conjunction que would be more common and that in a high percentage of cases it would appear in final position to reinforce the speaker’s opinion (Cabedo and Hidalgo 2008).

2. Theoretical Framework

In this paper, we followed the theoretical and methodological concepts of variationist sociolinguistics (Labov 1983), which perceives variability and heterogeneity as inherent features of language, although these do not appear randomly but in a regulated way (Silva-Corvalán and Enrique-Arias [2001] 2017, p. 268). Therefore, linguistic variation would be conditioned by factors internal and external to the language, such as gender, age, ethnicity, or socio-cultural level (Moreno [1998] 2015). Furthermore, we considered that this type of variation could be applied to any level, not just the phonetic. Thus, we analyzed units of the pragmatic–discursive level that, despite their polyfunctionality (Poblete 1997), could be taken quantitatively if two or more particles were considered to have semantic–pragmatic equivalence in certain contexts; that is, they were substitutable and interpreted as two ways of communicating the same thing (Cortés [1998] 2008).
For this purpose, we started with examples from other works that took into account the sociolinguistic view of spatial and social distribution of discourse markers. No studies were devoted exclusively to the sociolinguistic behavior of vamos. Therefore, we referred to studies on markers such as those of the Project of the Study of the Spanish Cultured Norm (Valencia 2014; Valencia and Vigueras 2015); Santana (2014, 2015a, 2015b) about the city of Seville; González Mafud and Perdomo (2018), and Perdomo (2020) on the speech of Havana; Guirado (2019) on Caracas; Taibo (2016) on the Spanish of Montevideo; and San Martín and Guerrero (2016), and San Martín (2014, 2015, 2016a, 2016b, 2017) on the city of Santiago de Chile1.

3. Discursive Functions of Vamos: A Review of the State of the Art

3.1. General Pragmatic Functions of Vamos

Vamos emerged as a discourse marker from the first-person plural, present indicative of the verb ir. (Romero 2006). However, González Ollé (2002) believes its origin lies in the subjunctive mood when used independently with an exhortative value—as in the expression ¡vamos allá! (“let’s go there!”), which does not literally mean that we are going anywhere. With it, el que habla trata de ir precisando sus ideas, sus apreciaciones, e intenta que el oyente comprenda su esfuerzo y coincida en su posición (Hidalgo 2020, p. 234) (“[The speaker] who uses it attempts to make his/her ideas or impressions more precise as he or she speaks trying to make the listener understand his/her effort and agree with his/her opinion”).
Bearing in mind the original sense that we pointed out, Polanco (2013) speaks of three semantic values for vamos. The first is the conative sense (example 1), which seeks to influence the behavior of the interlocutor:
en la medida en que el marcador sirve para introducir una invitación a que el oyente haga un esfuerzo común con el hablante para continuar el hilo de la conversación, reforzando las relaciones significativas existentes entre los miembros del discurso (Martín Zorraquino 1999, p. 243) (“in the way that the marker serves to introduce an invitation to the listener to make a common effort with the speaker to continue the thread of the conversation, reinforcing the existing meaningful relationships between the members of the discourse.”)
Second, we find the phatic sense (example 2), which indicates the attitude of the speaker towards the listener and his/her enunciation either to show agreement or disagreement (Polanco 2013, p. 228); and third, the formulaic sense (example 3), within which we find the metadiscursive function of reformulation. According to this, vamos indicates that which is presented in the following segment: es lo que yo quiero decir (“this is what I want to say”) (Fuentes [1998] 2008, p. 178; Llamas 2003, p. 857).
Example 12. Juan: Tengo que estar en la facultad a las nueve, no sé si me va a dar tiempo.
Pedro: Pues venga, vamos, date prisa.
(Juan: I have to be at school at nine o’clock, I don’t know if I’ll have time.
Pedro: Well, come on, come on, hurry up.)
Example 2.Andrés: No me ha gustado nada la presentación del profesor de Sintaxis.
Paula: Vamos, vamos, el tío era un borde que flipas.
(Andrés: I did not like the Syntax teacher’s presentation at all.
Paula: Come on, come on, the guy was so rude.)
Example 3.Jaime: Mi hijo es muy estudioso, vamos, es que se pasa el día en su escritorio.
(Jaime: My son is very studious, I mean, he spends all day at his desk.)
Martín Zorraquino and Portolés (1999, p. 4161) treat vamos as a conversational marker of deontic modality, as a unit that reflects the speaker’s attitude towards what is inferred from the discursive fragment to which it (the conversational marker vamos) refers. However, it also seems to form part of those linguistic expressions that have “functional expansion”, which allows it to obtain other semantic values depending on the context (Polanco 2013, p. 200).
As a focus of otherness, the sender intends to construct a positive image for the listener; in fact, its origin denotes this intention for the interlocutor to join the enunciative perspective as we cannot ignore that this marker is formed by the first-person plural and that, in some cases, it is a form of imperative (Martín Zorraquino and Portolés 1999, p. 4178). For that, it could be used to give orders (Holgado 2017) or to encourage someone to act (Real Academia Española 2020) (example 4). This was already understood by Beinhauer ([1958] 1968, p. 64), who perceived that the speaker used vamos to set up what he was going to say next while strengthening ties with the listener and encouraging them to join in. This author also pointed to an expletive or filler value (example 5) (Beinhauer [1958] 1968, p. 336), which Fuentes (1990, p. 145) recognized in his study on the city of Seville as a marker for emphasis.
Example 4.Juana: Estoy un poco deprimida. Dani hace un mes que no me escribe.
María: Vamos, arriba ese ánimo, ni que fuera el ultimo tío sobre la Tierra.
(Juana: I am a little depressed. Dani hasn’t written to me for a month.
María: Come on, keep your spirits up, you wouldn’t be the last guy on earth.)
Example 5.Laura: Yo no estudié nada para ese examen porque estaba muy apurada.
Andrea: ¿Y para qué te presentaste, tía?
Laura: A ver, yo fui a probar, por intentarlo…
Andrea: Pero estuviste como dos horas, ¿qué tanto escribiste?
Laura: Bueno, es que hablé con un amigo que hizo esa asignatura hace dos años y me dijo que, que, vamos, que la profe siempre pone las mismas preguntas. Entonces, me miré esas y ya.
Andrea: Joder, vaya suerte.
(Laura: I didn’t study at all for that exam because I was in a hurry.
Andrea: And why did you take the exam, my friend?
Laura: Well, I went to try...
Andrea: But you were there for about two hours, how much did you write?
Laura: Well, I talked to a friend of mine who took that course two years ago and he told me that, well, the teacher always asks the same questions. So, I looked at those and that’s it.
Andrea: Damn, what luck!)
As a reformulator, vamos presents several pragmatic values. In example 6, it acts as an explicative; that is, as a paraphrase or as a semantic equivalent of the previous discourse member (Fuentes 2009). In example 7, it is a rectifier to correct the previous speech act or part of it, especially after a hesitation (Fuentes 1990, [1998] 2008; Cortés 1991; Casado 2002; Santos 2003; Garcés 2010), and it is from this that its use as an attenuator seems to derive (Romero 2006, p. 48). In example 8, it is a recapitulatory element that condenses or summarizes in a single element a previously developed idea or a series of them (Cabedo and Hidalgo 2008; Nogueira 2010; Portolés [1998] 2014; Polanco 2016).
Example 6.Lola: Me gustaría tener al menos tres hijos, vamos, familia numerosa, seguro.
(Lola: I would like to have at least three children, that is, large family, sure.)
Example 7.Salvador: Lo pasé muy mal; vamos, muy mal tampoco, pero sí bastante regular.
(Salvador: I had a very bad time; I mean, not very bad either, but quite average.)
Example 8.José: Me quedan por comprar las estanterías, las mesas, las sillas, los cuadros,
vamos, un montón de cosas.
(José: I still have to buy the shelves, tables, chairs, pictures, in short, a lot of things.)
As for this last recapitulatory sense, as in example 8, Fuentes ([1998] 2008, p. 149) considers that it has a merely cohesive function, where it acts again as a continuator of the discourse, and that it would be motivated by its combination with the conjunction que (Briz [1998] 2014, p. 223).
It is also a reactive particle that helps to express agreement or rejection, depending on the elements with which it is combined, and the intonation used in its formulation (Hidalgo 2020, p. 237). As a modalizer, it can express displeasure, astonishment, surprise (example 9) (Tanghe 2015, p. 130), regret (Castillo 2008, p. 1743) (example 10), or acceptance (Polanco 2018, p. 348) (example 11). It seems clear that vamos will take one value or another depending on the context and prosody (Calsamiglia and Tusón 1999, p. 249).
Example 9.Antonio: Dice María que tenemos que hacer horas extra esta semana.
Pablo: Vamos, lo que faltaba.
(Antonio: Maria says we have to work overtime this week.
Pablo: Well, that’s all I needed to hear.)
Example 10.José: No me esperaba esto de ti, la verdad. De cualquier menos de ti.
Isaac: Vamos, por favor, no te pongas así.
(José: I didn’t expect this from you, to tell you the truth. From anyone but you.
Isaac: Come on, please, don’t be like that.)
Example 11.María: ¿Estamos de acuerdo en pedirle a Carmen que cambie la fecha del examen?
Sara: Vamos, por supuesto.
(María: Do we agree to ask Carmen to change the date of the exam?
Sara: Sure, of course.)
In the end, under the form of this marker, and others derived from verbs of movement such as anda (third-person singular, present indicative of the verb andar [‘to walk’], vaya (third-person present subjunctive singular of ir) or venga (third-person present subjunctive singular of venir [‘to come’]), lies the metaphor that compares discourse with a space through which the speaker can move freely, both forwards and backwards (Tanghe 2016, p. 79).

3.2. Other Characteristics

Its combination with other units is important insofar as, depending on the environment in which it is found, it will take on certain discursive functions or others. Indeed, Polanco (2017) argues that, when preceded by the conjunction pero, vamos can function as a discursive reorganizer (example 12) but it can also allude to something unpleasant that is to be avoided (Fuentes 1990, p. 146; 2009, p. 346; Polanco 2013, p. 222) (example 13).
Example 12.Javier: ¿Cómo haces tú para no ponerte nervioso cuando haces una exposición?
Mario: No sé, tío, suelo ensayarla varias veces y quizá exponerla a un familiar o a mi novia. Dicen que también ayuda imaginarte que el público está desnudo, o, incluso, mirar a un punto fijo a la pared, o a la pantalla. Puedes leerla si te pones muy nervioso. Pero vamos, lo mejor es practicar y practicar.
(Javier: How do you manage not to get nervous when you give a performance?
Mario: I don’t know, man, I usually rehearse it several times and maybe show it to a family member or my girlfriend. People say it also helps to imagine that the audience is naked, or even to look at a fixed point on the wall, or at the screen. You can read it if you get too nervous. But anyway, the best thing is to practice and practice.
Example 13.María: El nuevo de Filosofía es muy antipático, pero vamos, insoportable el tío.
(Maria: The new guy in Philosophy is very unfriendly, but wow, the man is unbearable.)
When followed by “que”, vamos can express a consequence or synthesis of what has been previously expressed (Martín Zorraquino and Portolés 1999, p. 4180; Nogueira 2010; Holgado 2017) (example 14). It then refers to a previous utterance about which a phatic reply is made (Rodríguez Ramalle 2014, p. 114; Polanco 2014 p. 127). However, it can also be combined with “es que”, which represents an emphatic value (Cabedo and Hidalgo 2008) (example 15). This sense has a clear argumentative direction although it is also possible that it is used to introduce conclusions from, or implications of, what has been said.
Example 14.Manuel: Estoy harto de este horario; vamos, que dejaría el trabajo hoy mismo.
(Manuel: I am fed up with this schedule; in other words, I would quit my job today.)
Example 15.Ana: Carmen dice que nos va a subir el alquiler el curso que viene.
Paula: Esa tía es una estafadora. Vamos, es que no sé cómo no te mudas de ahí.
Ana: Carmen says she’s going to raise our rent next year.
Paula: That woman is a swindler. Well, I don’t know why you don’t move out of there.
Vamos also expresses acceptance, resignation, or displeasure when it appears accompanied by the particle “hombre”, (used even if the interlocutor is not male) which clearly indicates a contradiction to what has been said before (Santos 2003) (example 16).
Example 16.Laura: Tía, no vale la pena ni enfadarse con ella, la verdad.
Olga: ¿Después de cómo me ha respondido? Vamos, hombre, enfadarse es poco.
(Laura: My friend, it’s not even worth getting angry with her, really.
Olga: After the way she answered me? Well, it’s not worth getting angry.)
It is also used as a sign of surprise and, in that case, it can constitute a discursive act on its own (Santos 2003) (example 17); it can even be repeated to emphasize a part of what has been said or be followed by another verb of movement such as anda (Cabedo and Hidalgo 2008) (example 18).
Example 17.Emilia: ¿A que es preciosa la casa?
Rodrigo: Vamos
(Emilia: Isn’t the house beautiful?
Rodrigo: Yeah...)
Example 18.Lola: El trabajo hay que repetirlo.
Clara: Vamos, anda. Como si no tuviera nada que hacer.
(Lola: The work has to be repeated.
Clara: Come on, please. As if I had nothing to do.)
As for its position in the discourse, the particle seems to have great mobility (Fuentes 2009). It normally heads a statement that clarifies or specifies what has been proposed in a first enunciation (example 19), but it never initiates a communication interchange on its own, as is the case with other conversational markers such as bueno or pues (Fuentes 2009). It can also appear in the final position of the utterance, especially when it acts as an explanatory or a rectifying reformulator (Figueras 2000) (example 20). In this position, vamos is also used as an argumentative reinforcer, and the second discourse element involves a self-reflexive interpretation of what has been expressed previously (Castillo 2008).
Example 19.Vicente: Creo que voy a suspender cuatro asignaturas.
Carlos: Vamos, tío, que seguro que puedes recuperar alguna.
(Vicente: I think I’m going to fail four subjects.
Carlos: Come on, man, I’m sure you can make up some of them.)
Example 20.Claudia: Tengo mucho trabajo esta semana.
Marta: Que pasarás todo el día en la oficina, vamos.
(Claudia: I have a lot of work this week.
Marta: So, you’ll spend all day at the office.)
The appearance of vamos in the final position, before a suspended utterance, on the other hand, is considered both as a way of attenuating a message and safeguarding the image of the listener (Cabedo and Hidalgo 2008) (example 21) but also as an intensifier (Polanco 2014, p. 126) (example 22). In the first case, the speaker takes care of his/her negative image, trying not to impose facts or criteria on his/her interlocutor. In the second case, however, the speaker raises the argumentative force of his/her discourse, trying to become closer and closer to his/her interlocutor. Therefore, he or she protects his/her positive image (Albelda and Barros 2013).
Example 21.Martina: Creo que la eliminación de la obligatoriedad de las mascarillas es una
mala idea; bueno, que es un poco precipitado. Es que, vamos
(Martina: I think that the elimination of mandatory masks is a bad idea; well, it is a bit hasty. It’s just that, anyway...)
Example 22.Luis: Mi vecino no para de martillar por las noches, creo que lo hace por fastidiar.
Bruno: Ese tío está loco, loquísimo. Es una cosa que vamos
(Luis: My neighbor doesn’t stop hammering at night, I think he does it to annoy me.
Bruno: That guy is crazy, really crazy. It’s something that, my God...)
As for its dialectal location, Portolés (2002, p. 157) states that the use of vamos as a discourse marker is not very common in America. In fact, the studies that have been carried out on the use of markers in Spanish-speaking cities show that only in dialects in Spain are verbs of motion used to guide communication (Hernández Cabrera and Samper 2014; Hernández Cabrera 2015; Santana 2014, 2015a, 2015b).

4. Materials and Methods

Our work is part of the Project for the Study of Spanish in Spain and America (PRESEEA), a macroproject the main objective of which is to build a synchronic corpus of the main Spanish-speaking cities of Spain and America through a common methodology. It is intended to facilitate scientific exchange and a comparison of results on a series of topics (Moreno 1996, p. 258).
The three social variables considered were age, differentiating between three generations: 20–34, 35–54, and 55 and older; gender; and educational level, within which three subvariables were distinguished: primary education (up to 10 years of schooling), secondary educational (10 to 14 years), and university educational (15 years or more). We show this sample in Table 1.
The questionnaire was applied by taking a uniform quota sample, in which the population was classified into strata, or categories, and a quota was assigned to each stratum (López Morales 1994, p. 58). We assigned three informants to each of the cells for a total corpus of 54 informants. This figure, in a city such as Granada with 237,929 inhabitants (at the time of sample collection) represented 0.0279%; in other words, one informant for every 4406 inhabitants (Moya 2007, p. 43).
Recordings were carried out between 2005 and 2009 following the parameters of PRESEEA; that is, using a script of questions organized around specific thematic modules. The script was intended to give confidence to the interlocutor, so that he or she could be as spontaneous as possible (Moya 2007, p. 44) thereby reducing the observer’s paradox to a minimum (Labov 1972, p. 113). The result was a set of semi-directed (or partially directed) conversations3, in which we only paid attention to the words used by the informants.
After a detailed tracing of each recording and its corresponding transcription, 270 instances of vamos were found. Their classification was not easy to identify, as they were used in pragmatic–discursive instances, and due to the polyfunctional nature of discourse markers (Poblete 1997, p. 74).
Theorizing about a sociolinguistic variable beyond the phonetic level has always faced obstacles, especially after the work of Lavandera (1978), who questioned this type of study on the grounds of the impossible semantic equivalence between variables. However, according to Moreno ([1998] 2015, p. 21), linguistic variation, understood as two different ways of saying the same thing, occurs at all levels of a language, from phonetic to discursive.
To detect the functions of vamos, we applied the commutation test proposed by Portolés ([1998] 2014, pp. 79–84). For instance, if the marker can be exchanged easily for “o sea”, we considered that its value was that of a reformulator, but if it were interchangeable for “bueno” or “hombre”, it had a mark of deontic modality or a focus of otherness, respectively. On the other hand, if we eliminated the particle without the utterance suffering any semantic incongruity, we decided that it had an expletive use or acted as a discursive filler. Lastly, if it could be replaced with “finalmente” we considered it to have a conclusive value. In addition, for the more ambiguous cases we took into consideration the relationship between the two discourse elements connected by vamos and the rest of the communication.
For statistical processing, we used SPSS version 20 for Windows 10. We defined the degree of significance (p value) at 5%, according to which any value less than 0.05 was statistically significant. We carried out the nonparametric Kruskal–Wallis’ ANOVA test because, after measuring the normality of the data using the Kolmogorov–Smirnov test, we concluded that the data presented a non-normal distribution.
Moreover, the distribution may be conditioned either by traits of the speakers, which were obviously external to the language, or by the average duration of each of the interviews: some lasted half an hour; others were closer to 45 min. This implied that longer conversations were more likely to have more discourse markers. For that, we weighted the data to account for this imbalance in the number of words per speaker, so that the results would be as reliable as possible. That is, considering the total number of words as a quantitative variable, the weight of the use of vamos per speaker was recalculated. This was possible thanks to the Weight Cases tool of the SPSS program, which automatically calculated the normalized variable and allowed us to cross variables to determine the influence of one factor or another on the use of vamos.

5. Results

5.1. Pragmatic Analysis

After analyzing the PRESEEA corpus of Granada in search of the form vamos with discourse marker value, we found 270 occurrences which are distributed in the following dispersion graph (e.g., Figure 1):
Figure 1. Dispersion of the cases of vamos in the total number of informants in the sample4. The first informants (young, university-educated) did not use vamos on any occasion, so we initially perceived that this form of speech was typical of other age groups or speakers with a non-university education. We also found a high use in certain informants, such as speakers 7 and 10 (middle-aged with university education), speaker 23 (young with secondary education), and subjects 38 and 46. These latter cases were a young male with a primary education and a female of a similar cultural level whose ages ranged between 34 and 55. We had to be attentive to these anomalies when carrying out the statistical analysis, as these informants could have unbalanced the averages because their interviews lasted longer. Hence, we decided to weigh the data according to the number of words in each of the interviews.
Figure 1. Dispersion of the cases of vamos in the total number of informants in the sample4. The first informants (young, university-educated) did not use vamos on any occasion, so we initially perceived that this form of speech was typical of other age groups or speakers with a non-university education. We also found a high use in certain informants, such as speakers 7 and 10 (middle-aged with university education), speaker 23 (young with secondary education), and subjects 38 and 46. These latter cases were a young male with a primary education and a female of a similar cultural level whose ages ranged between 34 and 55. We had to be attentive to these anomalies when carrying out the statistical analysis, as these informants could have unbalanced the averages because their interviews lasted longer. Hence, we decided to weigh the data according to the number of words in each of the interviews.
Languages 06 00156 g001
The study of the functions of this discourse unit yielded different values, as we anticipated, from the summary of the previous studies carried out on vamos. In the Granada corpus, the occurrences found are distributed in percentage terms as shown in Figure 25.
First, the main function of this discourse marker in more than 40% of the cases was that of an explanatory reformulator, which qualifies part of the preceding information to make it clearer for the listener. In example 23, the informant stated that, to get married, you must consider how you deal with your daily life; in other words, whether you are mature enough to live with someone else:
Example 23. I6: El matrimonio///pues depende//puede ser/o/algo negativo/o algo positivo o algo intermedio//bueno/ee también//ts/esto//en lo que se refiere a la convivencia a poder//convivir con la otra persona//con la que vas a pasar el resto de tu vida//mm pero eso es que influyen mucho//una serie de factores como pueden ser el carácter//ee la personalida(d) en sí//y también//ts//ee pf/bueno es la personalida(d) y ya dentro de la personalida(d)//pues cómo sea tu relación con las demás personas//ee con tu propia pareja//o cómo te enfrentas el día a día//vamos (explicative reformulator) si eres lo suficientemente maduro como pa(ra) saber vivir//y/eso es una clave muy importante// (…) (GRAN-M13-067)
(I: Marriage can be/or/something negative/or something positive or something in-between///well//also///this////when it comes to living together///to being able//to live with the other person///with whom you are going to spend the rest of your life///mm but that is influenced by a lot///a series of factors such as your character//ee the personality itself///and it is also the personality and within the personality///then how is your relationship with other people//with your own partner//or how you face the day to day//that is/if you are mature enough to know how to live//and/that is a very important key// (...) (GRAN-M13-06))
In example 24, the speaker explains how his military period came about. He says he wanted to go “al quinto pino,” i.e., he would have gone anywhere because his wish was to leave the city where he was born:
Example 24. I: (…) pues la mili la tuve/muy bien///vamos/yo a mí/es que me ha ido todo muy bien/vamos/según lo miro yo//porque yo me quería ir//mm//yo no me quería ir voluntario//a la mili//y en la tienda me estaban diciendo/“vete voluntario//y te quedas aquí//y vienes a trabajar”//y yo decía/“no/yo no me voy volun–//voluntario/porque yo lo que quiero es irme/yo quería que me fuera//al quinto pino” vamos (explicative reformulator)/a donde me tocara//y ya ves tú/que me tocó después aquí en Granada//(GRAN-H32-032)
(I: (...) military service went very well for me////// I mean///it’s that everything went very well//as I see it//because I wanted to go… I didn’t want to go as a volunteer///to the military///and in the store they were telling me//”go as a volunteer//and you stay here//and you come to work”//and I said/”no///I’m not going as a volunteer////because what I want is to go//and you come to work”//and I said/”no//I don’t go volunteer///volunteer//because what I want is to leave//I wanted to go///to far away”/ that is/wherever it was my turn///and you see/and then it was my turn here in Granada///(GRAN- H32-032))
Vamos can also be used to reformulate, correct, or invalidate some or all the information previously uttered––a rectification. With this value, it reached more than 11% of total instances. This is the case for example 25, where vamos was used to restate what had been said before. First, the speaker pointed out that he had forgotten how to install photovoltaic panels, then he said that he did not know, and finally he said he knew how but not very well. His hesitation revealed that the informant was trying to safeguard his image so as not to disappoint the listener.
Example 25. I: (…) porque estamos haciendo//nos estamos cargando el//el planeta///pues/¿qué te digo yo?/es que ahora me pongo a pensar y no me acuerdo/¡vamos! (rectifying reformulator) las sé todas más o menos pero///por ejemplo//una instalación que haya de//si tú quieres poner una instalación de placas solares de las fotovoltaica/pues la instalación ya/con la misma de la electricidad de ahora//te vale/o sea no tienes que//(simultáneo: E = no tienes que cambiar) por ejemplo si de de lo que es la capital//a un pueblo tienes que llevar la instalación (simultáneo: E = sí) no tienes que poner otra nueva (simultáneo: E = ah) o sea esa misma ya te sirve//(GRAN-H11-038)
(I: (...) because we are destroying the planet////well//what can I tell you?/it’s that now I start to think and I don’t remember/better said I know them all more or less but////for example///an installation that if you want to install a photovoltaic solar panel installation//then the installation already//with the same electricity installation as now///it’s enough//so you don’t have to change it...//(simultaneous: E = you do not have to change) for example if from the capital//to a village you have to take the installation (simultaneous: E = yes) you do///not have to put a new one (simultaneous: E = ah) that is to say that the same one already serves you///(GRAN-H11-038))
In the case of example 26, the informant corrected her earlier opinion about a botellón—a place where young people gather to drink alcohol in the street—being established outside Granada. Whereas she had previously stated she could understand this phenomenon considering the realities she had described, such as the prohibitive prices of drinks at bars, she assumed that it was not appropriate to say that she thought it was good and immediately regretted a partial concession:
Example 26. I: claro///es que es por lo menos/es un mínimo///ya no es ensuciar/es que ya es//(tiempo = 17:00) mm se van orinando por todos lados/cuando no es vomitado/cuando no son peleas porque ya están cargados/ya no sólo de bebida/sino de lo que no es bebida///y y claro y llega un momento en que eso…/y todavía/cuando es en un sitio que está a las afueras y no hay vecinos//pues bien///¡vamos! (rectifying reformulator) bien/no es que lo vea bien tampoco/dentro de lo que cabe lo comprendo///porque está todo que es que está intocable y/y ya no saben… (GRAN-M21-046)
(I: of course////it is at least//it is a minimum///it is not messing//it is already// (time = 17: 00) that they go peeing everywhere//when it’s not vomiting///when it’s not fights because they’re already loaded///not only of drinking/// but of what is not drinking////and of course and there comes a time when that.... /and yet/when it is in a place that is on the outskirts and there are no neighbors///well//not well//it is not that I see it well either//within what is possible I understand it////because everything is untouchable and//and they no longer know... (GRAN-M21-046))
Likewise, another value of vamos is as a reformulator to summarize or condense a series of facts for a new discourse member, as in example 27. The speaker listed different members of his family to finally state that he has an excessively big family for any celebration:
Example 27. I: (…) nosotros/somos lo que es mis padres y mis hermanos somos seis//luego por parte de mi madre son//con mis abuelos///y mi madre y mis tíos//somos/son cinco//por parte de mi padre también somos///ahora quedamos/uno dos tres/cuatro/cinco///y bueno/mi abuelo/son nueve hermanos///mi abuela son tres hermanos/o sea que tenemos familia pf//un montón//y de primos/primos segundos/¡vamos! (recapitulative reformulator) que es una familia que para hacer un convite de una boda o algo/(risas) es un desastre ¡vamos!//es… (GRAN-H11-038)
(I: (…) we are what is my parents and my siblings are six/then on my mother’s side they are///with my grandparents//and my mother and my uncles/we are//there are five/on my father’s side we are also//now we are//one two three/four/five//and well/my grandfather/there are nine brothers//my grandmother are three brothers/so we have family pf/a lot/and of cousins/second cousins/in short that is a family that to have a wedding reception or something/(laughs) is a disaster/well.... (GRAN-H11-038))
As a connecting element throughout the discourse, it can serve as a continuative or conclusive element. In example 28, we find an example of the continuative value, in which the discourse marker has no function other than to keep the communication going while the speaker thinks about what to say next.
Example 28. I: mis padres eran/trabajaban en el campo//y mi padre precisamente en el verano/pues tenía/bueno/él tenía trabajo/pero en el verano tenía porque mi padre tenía máquinas/y tenía cosechadoras/y cosas así/entonces el verano siempre tenía much— y/días sueltos/sí nos íbamos/que recuerdo yo/por cierto/cuando nos íbamos a la playa/a Almuñécar/pero días sueltos así/con un Dos Caballos/(risas) pero auténtico Dos Caballos (risas) un Citroën de aquéllos/y nos íbamos por la Cabra (risas) (ruido = aclaración de voz) porque/vamos/ (continuative) la carretera de Motril aquello/claro//ee es que para ir a Almuñécar era la de la Cabra porque la otra te tienes que ir por la Borboracha hasta Motril y luego volver que era/una odisea// (GRAN-H22-025)
(I: my parents were/worked in the fields///and my father precisely in the summer/he had/well/he had work/but in the summer he had because my father had machines/and he had harvesters/and things like that/so in the summer he always had a lot— and/on single days/yes we would go/that I remember/by the way/when we would go to the beach/to Almuñécar/but on single days so/with a Dos Caballos/(laughs) but an authentic Dos Caballos (laughs) a Citroën of those/and we would go by the Cabra (laughs) (noise = voice clarification) because/well/the road to Motril that/clear///ee is that to go to Almuñécar it was the one to the Cabra because the other one you have to go by the Borboracha to Motril and then return that was/an odyssey for us...//(GRAN-H22-025))
In the following two examples, we see how vamos allows the informant to conclude a topic so he or she can move on to another. Moreover, we can see that it is usually preceded by a conjunction such as pero, as in 29 and 30.
Example 29. I: (…) bueno también hay una cosa/la familia/de mi padre/una parte de la familia de mi padre era de Lanjarón//entonces/por ejemplo//las habitaciones a las que en las que nosotros veraneábamos//ee eran de una prima de mi padre//y bueno sí(palabra cortada) sigue teniendo familia allí yo conozco a alguna vez he ido por allí/y conozco familia de//de Lanjarón/aunque no tengo mucha relación con ella pero vamos (conclusive) que/quizá tuviera que ver con eso/pero también me parece que era la moda de la época ¿no?/ir a Lanjarón a veranear (GRAN-H23-07)
(I: well there is also one thing/my father’s family/part of my father’s family was from Lanjarón///so/for example///the rooms where we used to spend the summer///ee belonged to a cousin of my father’s//and well he still has family//I know sometime I have been there/and I know family from Lanjarón/although I don’t have much relation with them but in short that/maybe it had to do with that/but I also think it was the fashion of the time, wasn’t it? /go to Lanjarón to spend the summer (GRAN-H23-07))
Example 30. I: sí/lo recuerdo… ahora//como que no//ahora me tengo una sensación de que mis hermanos han sido mis niños/que ya tengo grandes//porque/no tengo/no estoy casada ni tengo hijos//y cuando me dicen “Esther ¿cuándo vas a tener hijos?” digo “yo/si yo ya los tengo grandes” (risas)//qué va//me da una/sí/ahora sí/la verdad es que sí pero que claro/me he quitado de juegos de//con mis amigas/de salir mm por las tardes con mis amigas a/a divertirme o simplemente a jugar//siempre iba con algún carricoche
E: claroI: a cuestas//sí la verdad es que sí/que sí se nota//normal/pero que vamos (conclusive) que ningún trauma ni nada/al revés/muy buenos recuerdos/ (…) (GRAN-M12-024)
(I: yes/ I remember... not now///now I have the feeling that my siblings have been my children/that I’m grown up//because I’m not married and I don’t have children///and when people say to me “Esther, when are you going to have children? “I say “I am/if I already have them” (laughs)//what’s up//now yes/the truth is that yes, but of course/ I have stopped playing/with my friends/going out in the afternoons with my friends/ having fun or just playing//I always went with a stroller.
E: of course
I: on my back//yes the truth is that yes/that yes it is noticeable//normal/but well/no trauma or anything/nothing/nothing at all/on the contrary/very good memories/ (...) (GRAN-M12-024))
As a modalizer, vamos can serve both as an intensifier and as an attenuator. The first value is found in example 31, where the informant intended to express her indignation at the bad employment situation. The emphasis she placed on this is reinforced by the suspension of the utterance and the use of forms such as “claro,” a modifier of evidence (Fuentes 2009).
Example 31. I: pero/mm es lo que estamos hablando/no hay un trabajo fijo/no hay/ha hecho de pintor/ha hecho de de albañil/ha estado trabajando en empresas de limpieza/ha estado//en la construcción en un montón de sitios/en tiendas/ee//en lo que ha podido///y/ahora/pues/está en la construcción///y me viene contando cada cosa…
E: (tiempo = 07:10) claro
I: que ¡vamos! (intensifier)///… claro//él//trabaja en la construcción pero tiene//una educación/y tiene unos modales y tiene una cosa que/por desgracia//por hache o por be/en la construcción no es lo normal (GRAN-M21-046)
(I: but/mm is what we are talking about/there is no steady job/there is no/he has worked as a painter/he has worked as a bricklayer/he has been working in cleaning companies/he has been///in construction in a lot of places/in stores/ee///where he could///and/now/well/he is in construction////and he tells me some things....
E: (time = 07:10) sure.
I: that anyway///... of course//he///works in construction but has///an education///and has some manners and has a thing that//unfortunately///for one reason or another//in construction is not the norm (GRAN-M21-046))
In the example of the mitigating factor, the speaker was questioned about how young people in Granada have fun, especially her opinion about the fashion of botellones in the Andalusian city. The informant seemed to want her image to be safeguarded as in example 32. She hesitated when expressing herself, so she resorted to attenuation through vamos. She also used other attenuating strategies such as the use of a doxastic verb such as “creo” or “pienso,” or other markers such as the contact control marker “¿no?”, which aim to include the listener.
Example 32. E: (…) mira y/ahora/actualmente//ts ee ¿cómo ves tú mm la manera de divertirse que tienen los jóvenes?//porque tú eres joven y también te diviertes//entonces ¿tú qué opinas?
I: (tiempo: 12:32) horrible//creo que vamos (mitigation)//estamos teniendo una/una sociedad//de/alcoholismo puro//mm el respeto//porque antes me acuerdo yo que iba en el autobús//y veías a una pe– señora mayor o algo//y lo primero que hacías era levantarte para ce– cederle el/el asiento//y/como eso/miles de cosas//siempre se le tenía mucho más respeto a la gente mayor// (GRAN-M12-023)
(E: (…) look and/now/currently/// how do you see the way young people have fun?///because you are young and you also have fun///so what do you think?
I: (time: 12:32) horrible//I think that well///we are having a//society of pure alcoholism///without respect///because I remember before I used to go on the bus///and you would see an old lady or something///and the first thing you did was to get up to give her the seat///and/like that//thousands of things///you always had much more respect for older people/// (GRAN-M12-023))
This value is very close to that of a rectifying reformulator, but here the priority is not to return to an aspect of the discourse to express it in another way, but to lower the intensity of the message.
Finally, we noted that the reactive use of vamos is rare, which makes sense if we consider the structure of the interview and that in no case did it lend itself to the formation of adjacent pairs, in which a speaker invites, proposes, or asks something of the other and the latter has to accept or reject it. In example 33, vamos serves the informant to accept the interviewers words, in a manner similar to the affirmative adverb “” or the marker “claro”:
Example 33. I: (…) yo no sabía que una/que una muerte fuese (simultáneo: E = exacto) tan cercana do– doliese tanto
E: claro//porque te pilló de llenoI: vamos (acceptation)//además//yo me acuerdo que esa noche/salí//y cuando//claro/do– dormí poco//y me acuerdo que por la mañana/fue por la mañana a la seis de la mañana//(…) (GRAN-M12-023)
I: (...) I didn’t know that a death (simultaneous: E = exact) so close could hurt so much.
E: of course//because it happened to you when you were there.
I: of course
///also/// I remember that that night/I went out///and when.../ I slept little///and I remember that in the morning//it was in the morning at six o’clock in the morning///(...) (GRAN-M12-023)

5.2. Sociolinguistic Analysis

The occurrences whose functions we discussed above were distributed as follows for each of the social variables.
As we can see in Table 2, the use of vamos was higher in informants with only a primary or secondary educational level, although university graduates represented about 27% of the cases, but no first-generation males were in the upper educational level.
According to age, young and middle-aged speakers used vamos the most, which may be due to fashion and more recent grammaticalization, as was the case a few decades ago with o sea (Pons 2014). However, we needed to investigate the relationship of each of these social variables with the frequency of use of this discourse marker. For this purpose, we took into account the estimated averages once the frequencies were recalculated according to the number of words uttered by each speaker, as we previously explained.
Firstly, regarding gender, in the previous table, we observed that females used it more frequently, perhaps because the first-person plural serves to integrate their discourse into a group or collective. However, in the analysis of averages (e.g., Figure 3), we saw that male and female use was remarkably close, which is why the statistical test showed no dependency relationship between the use of this linguistic unit and the gender of the speaker (Figure 2). In the Kruskal–Wallis ANOVA test, we found a Chi-square (χ2) of 3.242 and a p-value of 0.072.
As for the specific functions shown by this marker, we only considered reliable for the statistical analysis those that exceeded 25 occurrences. Therefore, we analyzed its value as an explanatory and rectifying reformulator, as a modifier and as a conclusive, and we left aside its uses as a recapitulatory reformulator, reactive, and continuative. Thus, we found the following data from the Kruskal–Wallis ANOVA test shown in Table 3, in which only the use of the rectifying vamos showed a predilection for one of the two genders. As we can see in Figure 4, it was males.
Secondly, concerning age, we can see in Figure 5 that this unit was typical in the discourse of the younger generations, while in the group with a university education it was hardly used. This may indicate that it is a discursive particle whose use is driven by younger speakers from the middle and lower strata. The Chi-square test showed that there was a direct relationship between the generational group of the interviewees and the likelihood of this marker being used.
Regarding the pragmatic functions, the data in Table 4 show that only in the case of rectifying reformulators was age not an influential social variable for the appearance of vamos in conversation.
In Figure 6, we see that middle-aged informants made higher use of explicatives and conclusives. On the other hand, the younger informants used vamos more as a modalizer, probably due to the need for informants to express their attitude towards the topic being dealt with, but also towards what their interlocutor and themselves were saying (Jørgensen and Martínez 2007).
Third, regarding educational level, Figure 7 shows that, in our corpus, speakers with a low education seemed to be the ones who most habitually used vamos, while its use was reduced in the speech of informants with secondary and university education. This could be because lower-educated speakers feel the need to include their interlocutor in what they say to reinforce their discourse, as these speakers tend to be more linguistically insecure than other informants (Moreno [1998] 2015, p. 183).
With respect to the functions occupied by vamos in the discourse, we found that educational level interferes with the appearance of the rectifying reformulator and modalizer functions of vamos. This can be seen in the results of the nonparametric test in Table 5.
In Figure 8, we can see that vamos as a rectifying reformulator and modalizer were used more frequently by those with a lower education. This group, with more linguistic insecurity, wants the interlocutor to adhere to his/her words. In addition, this group lack the knowledge of other units more appropriate for these functions, such as mejor dicho, to rectify.
Finally, we wanted to check which of the two functions (age and educational) exerted the largest influence on the use of vamos. After applying Cramer’s V coefficient (e.g., Table 6), we found that the most decisive factor was educational level because it was the variable whose coefficient was closest to 1.
Although both social factors were important and conditioned its use, the level of education was slightly more influential, as it seemed to be a linguistic unit peculiar to speakers with primary and secondary studies. However, future multivariate analyses may reveal differences within each subgroup in relation to these two variables.

5.3. Other Characteristics

As for other issues affecting the use of the discourse marker vamos, we found that it appeared especially often in descriptive discursive acts, as seen in Figure 9, even though, according to Domínguez (2010), the use of the markers in general should be less frequent in these sequences. In contrast, in argumentative and dialogical acts, the occurrence was extremely low; however, we must consider that this type of discourse was necessarily difficult to find in the kind of interviews performed for the corpus, as the interviewer had almost no intervention.
We can see from Table 7 the kinds of words with which vamos appeared, including other discourse markers9.
We note that it was most frequently preceded by a conjunction such as y or pero, as in examples 34 and 35.
Example 34. I: (…) un niño/ hace la gracia de encerrar a dos o tres en una clase// y desde dentro era a patadas limpias con la puerta/ la manivela rota/ el marco desencajado// claro ya// después de hacer eso ya no había manera de abrir la puerta// aunque quisieran// pues ya han tenido que ir unos profesores/ pegarle dos patadas por fuera a la puerta/// echarla abajo/// pues cuando han salido los que estaban dentro// se han liado a puñetazos con el que los había encerrado/// y los profesores intentando pararlos/// y y ¡vamos!/ poco menos que le pegan al profesor también// (GRAN-M21-046)
I: (... ) a boy made a joke of locking two or three of them in a classroom// and from the inside he kicked them with the door// the handle was broken/ the frame was broken// after doing that there was no way to open the door// even if they wanted to// well, some teachers had to go// kicking the door twice from the outside//// kicking it down// and when those who were inside came out/// they got into a fist fight with the one who had locked them in// and the teachers tried to stop them// and in short/ they almost hit the teacher too/// (GRAN- M21-046)
Example 35. I: (…)luego me parece/ que fuimos// es que no estoy muy seguro si era a desayunar porque me me parece que era demasia(d)o tarde// pero a un bar que hay/ pues en la placeta de Fátima en frente sigue existiendo ese bar (simultáneo: E = ¿sí?)/ quizás lo conozcas es uno que hay/ donde está la la oficina de La General/ (simultáneo: E = sí)/ pues por encima hay un bar que tiene una terraza bastante grande (simultáneo: E = ¡ah! sí sí) sí/ creo que fue allí pero vamos tampoco lo recuerdo muy bien pero me parece que estuvimos allí desayunando// ee/ después de la primera comunión (GRAN-H23-07)
I: (...) then I think we went...// I’m not sure if it was for breakfast because I think it was too late/// but we went to a bar that is/ well, in the placeta de Fátima/ in front/ there is still that bar (simultaneous: E = yes?)/ maybe you know it/ it is one that is/ where the office of La General is/ (simultaneous: E = yes)/ well there is a bar that has quite a big terrace (simultaneous: E = ah! yes yes yes) yes/ I think it was there but, well, I don’t remember it very well either but I think we were there having breakfast/// ee/ after the first communion (GRAN-H23-07)
Likewise, the union with que was very reduced compared to other particles whose main function is also that of a reformulator, such as o sea (Rodríguez Ramalle 2014), because in our Granada corpus the combination of o sea with que exceeded 35% of occurrences, whereas a similar combination with vamos did not reach a frequency of 20% (example 36), according to Ruiz (2018).
Example 36. I: (…) siempre hemos salido y/… unos o otros siempre nos hemos tomado un litro de cerveza a lo mejor con unos amigos en en una calle/ o nos hemos tomado un cubata en vez de dentro del pub nos lo hemos tomado fuera ¡vamos! que tampoco/// pero que ahora sí que se pasan sí también no te lo discuto// ts que hacen muchas gamberradas/ porque rompen los que que si los cristales que si farolas todo eso (…) (GRAN-M21-047)
Lastly, concerning the position occupied by vamos in the discourse, Figure 10 shows that it was mostly used in the initial position (example 37) and not so much at the end or in the middle since it would act as a reactive, and we have already noted that the frequency of this usage was exceptionally low. The final position accounted for 10% (27 tokens), a relatively high figure if we consider that in this position vamos usually acts as a modifier or as a reformulator to reaffirm the discourse segment presented previously and which could even be well understood without it (example 38)10.
Example 37. I: bueno ahora no es normal// (simultáneo: E = ¡ah! no es normal) ahora por nuestra mala cabeza// nos vemos educando a los/ vamos criando a los nietos
E: (risas) ¡ah!I: vamos eso no es normal (risas)// eso no es normal (GRAN-M32-036)
(I: well now it’s not normal// (simultaneous: E = ah! it’s not normal?) now because of our bad head// we see ourselves educating the.../ that is/ raising the grandchildren.../
E: (laughs) ah!
I: I mean/ that’s not normal (laughs)// that’s not normal (GRAN-M32-036)
Example 38. I: no// y fiestas// pocas hemos ido
E: y el día de la Cruz y en…I: eso sí// pero como en Granada siempre el día de la Cruz// llueve/ hace frío hace mal tiempo/ ee/ menos este año que me parece que ha sido/ de los munchos que ha hecho buen tiempo/ (simultáneo: E = es verdad) pero normalmente siempre llueve/(hace frío)/ vamos (GRAN-M11-040)
(I: no// and we have been to few festivals.
E: and the day of the Cross and on...?
I: yes// but as in Granada it always rains// on the day of the Cross// it’s cold// it’s bad weather/ ee/ except this year I think it’s been// one of the many years that the weather has been good/ (simultaneous: E = it’s true) but normally it always rains/ I mean/ it’s cold/ (GRAN-M11-040))

6. Discussion and Conclusions

In this section, we present the interpretations drawn from the analysis above.
First, we confirmed the high frequency of occurrences of vamos in the discourse of speakers of Granada, with 270 instances in our corpus. The marker seemed to have a notable polyfunctionality as it could occupy up to seven different pragmatic functions depending on context, topic, and intonation.
The main value of this linguistic unit is that of an explanation reformulator, as pointed out by Fuentes ([1998] 2008), Cabedo and Hidalgo (2008) or Holgado (2017), among others. This is a way for the speaker to go back to a previously delivered discourse and rephrase it to make it clearer to his/her interlocutors.
Other significant values were related to the modalizing function, in which the speaker states the informant’s attitude towards his/her discourse or towards what the interviewer states, and the conclusive function, whereby it is used to close one topic to move on to another.
The reactive use, which many authors have pointed out, was minimal. This is not surprising, though, if we consider that we analyzed semi-directed interviews in which the role of the interlocutor was secondary and thus the informant cannot react to what the other person has said.
However, its use as a continuative accounted for 5.19% of the cases (14 tokens), filling gaps in the conversation for the speaker to stall for time while finding the right words to continue his or her speech (example 39). This was especially noticeable in narratives or descriptions where memory was continually used to recall past events, actions, people, or places.
Example 39. E: y/ y ¿tú qué opinas de la medida esta última de no permitir fumar en los lugares cerrados?
I: (tiempo: 27:40) ¡hombre!/ los lugares cerrados/ pues/ no se debe de fumar// porque vamos (continuative) ee/ quieras que no/ pues/ no es perjuicio solamente para el que fuma/ sino para el que está allí/ para todo el que esté alrededor/ si el fumar perjudica a todo el mundo/ el que fuma/ y el que está al lado// (…) (GRAN-M32-034)
(E: And what do you think about this last measure of not allowing smoking in enclosed places?
I: (time: 27:40) Well! / In enclosed places/ well/ smoking should not be allowed// because well/ whether you like it or not/ well/ it is not only harmful for the smoker/ but for the one who is there/ for everyone around/ if smoking harms everyone/ the smoker/ and the one next to him// (…) (GRAN-M32-034))
Additionally, we confirmed the hypothesis that mainly younger speakers with a basic education probably used this particle to involve the interviewer in their argument and safeguard their image, as these speakers show more linguistic insecurity (Rodríguez González 2002, p. 23). Speakers without a formal education would often use the same discourse markers because they are not familiar with other more formal or cultured units, which are attained during a later level of schooling. This is the case for units such as esto es and a saber to explain, más bien and mejor dicho to rectify, or en definitiva and en resumidas cuentas to conclude or recapitulate.
With respect to the functions influenced by age or level of education, we saw that in the modalizing function, the use of vamos was more evident among young speakers with only primary education, and its use decreased as age and education increased. Again, we found that linguistic insecurity and the desire not to risk their public image led speakers to use vamos to attenuate their opinions. We found that these speakers tended to avoid responsibility for opinions they may have stated, even softening them in a later reformulation to avoid a possible disagreement with their interlocutors (Hidalgo 2020, p. 235), who, usually, they consider to be at a higher socio-cultural status.
Furthermore, we found that gender was not a variable that interfered with its occurrence, although its usage by males was decisive when vamos acted as a rectifying reformulator. This contradicted the belief that females are more hesitant and insecure in their arguments. In this case, males would need to go back to what they had said previously and qualify their discourse, as also occurred in the corpus of Cestero and Albelda (2012), who analyzed linguistic attenuation. However, we consider that it would be necessary to investigate how this factor intervenes in the use of other similar mechanisms by females.
With respect to the discourse sequences in which it appears, its use in argumentative and dialogical acts was insignificant due to the type of interaction between the two speakers, which favored the appearance of other acts, such as description, narration, or exposition. An approach to the use of this discourse marker in other types of communicative interaction could help us to identify to what extent the type of interview interferes with the occurrence of vamos and the uses it presents.
As for its use in combinations, it is undeniable that the most frequent one was vamos preceded by a conjunction, as we saw in examples 34 and 35. Nevertheless, we also highlighted cases where it was followed by the particle que, especially when it acted as a reformulator in a similar way to what happens with o sea or es decir.
Regarding the position of the unit in the discourse, we refuted the claim that its appearance in the final position was important because it only accounted for 10% of occurrences. However, if we compared it with other markers frequently used in the city of Granada, such as bueno, o sea, or hombre, vamos was more likely to appear at the end of a speech act because the other markers occurred in fewer than 4% of cases in this position. We plan to analyze, in a future investigation, to what extent the position interferes in the functions taken by vamos, for which we will need other corpora with new data analysis.
Finally, in relation to diatopic variation, when we compared our results with those of other studies which have analyzed the use of discourse markers from a dialectal point of view, we found that their use only occurred in Spanish cities. We found examples of this use of vamos in the Val.Es.Co. corpus (Español Coloquial de Valencia) (Brenes and González-Sanz 2020; Hidalgo 2020), the COLA corpus (Corpus de Lenguaje Adolescente), specifically in the speech of Madrid (Brenes and González-Sanz 2020) and in the analyses carried out within the Norma Culta Hispánica Project in the cities of Seville and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Hernández Cabrera and Samper 2014; Hernández Cabrera 2015; Santana 2014, 2015a, 2015b). However, in Latin America its use as a discursive unit was not found, except in the cities of Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile (Brenes and González-Sanz 2020) and in Havana (González Mafud and Perdomo 2014, 2015), but in these three cities only one case of vamos was recorded, which did not seem significant for the analysis. It is possible that it was motivated by the relationships between the speakers who produced it and the speakers from Spain.
Likewise, in diastratic variation, we saw that in other cities such as Seville, the use of vamos was also higher among speakers with a lower level of education (Santana 2014, 2015a, 2015b), perhaps because high-level speakers were more conscious of their speech in this type of interview. In fact, in Santana’s analysis of the cultured speech of Sevillians, the author determined that the use of this form had decreased over time in those with a university education, from 71 occurrences in 1973 to 38 in 2012, while in the latter years the number of occurrences registered in people with a lower education was 148 units. What was not evident in the data was the fact that young people used it more because the results were quite homogeneous in one age group and another (Santana 2015b). On the other hand, in the educated speech of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the use of vamos did increase by more than 70% between the sample collected in 1990 and the one recorded in 2008, and the change was driven by young females, as they only accounted for 61% of these occurrences.
Despite what has been established here for the city of Granada, further work is needed to extend the sample and to determine the behavior of the discursive particle vamos in Spanish. We suspect that in future studies we might determine an increase in the use of vamos among the second and third generations. Younger people, on the other hand, are adopting forms specific to their age group, such as rollo or en plan, which identify them as a collective and are often used to rephrase (Rodríguez Lage 2015; Repede 2020). Educated speakers will, however, continue to use more formal or literary discourse markers. We will continue to investigate to what extent this has already become a reality, and we will try to find out whether the personal factor interferes with the use or non-use of vamos as a discourse marker.


This research received no external funding.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Not applicable.

Data Availability Statement

Not applicable.

Conflicts of Interest

The author declares no conflict of interest.


For this order, we follow a spatial reference from the dialectal variety closest to Granada to the most distant one.
This and the following examples are the author’s creation to facilitate the reader’s understanding.
The semidirected interview is considered the best known and most practiced technique in sociolinguistics (Hernández Campoy and Almeida 2005, p. 135). It has also been called “elicited conversation” insofar as there is a clear intention behind it to collect material for language analysis (Recalde and Vázque 2009, p. 56). Its use makes it possible to represent the variety of discursive styles and sociolinguistic variables (Briz 2005, p. 23) and for the researcher’s intervention to be minimal and functional (Larrosa 2003–2004, p. 155).
The speakers are distributed as follows: from 1 to 18 correspond to the high level of education, from 19 to 36 to the medium level and from 37 to 54 to the low level. In turn, within a group, the first six speakers belonged to the first generation (20–34), the next six to the second (35–54), and the last six to the third (55 and older).
These percentages refer to the following absolute frequencies: 118 cases of vamos as an explanatory reformulator, 30 as a rectifying reformulator, 22 as a recapitulatory reformulator, 37 as a modalizer, 3 as a reactive, 14 as a continuative and 37 as a conclusive.
We abbreviate informant with a capital i, which denotes that each of the words presented here have been expressed by the speakers in the sample. In cases where the words of the interviewer are included to better understand the message, we use the letter e.
We follow the PRESEEA coding system: GRAN stands for the city of Granada); we distinguish H (Male, from Spanish “hombre”) or M (Female, from Spanish “mujer”); age is marked as 1 (Generation 1: 20–34 years), 2 (Generation 2: 35–54 years), or 3 (Generation 3: 55 years or more); and in the level of studies we find 1 (Instruction 1, primary level), 2 (Instruction 2, secondary level), and 3 (Instruction 3, university level). Likewise, each respondent is given a sample number; in the case of the first example, it is marked 06 because it corresponds to respondent number 6.
We represent absolute values with the letter N.
Conjunctions and discourse markers are particles that connect part of the speech of one or more speakers. Unlike conjunctions, discourse markers do not have a syntactic function in the sentence in which they appear; they are placed in an extrarational position and can be easily removed without a loss of semantic value (Martín Zorraquino and Portolés 1999).
We have marked with parenthesis the discursive segment that vamos reinforces.


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Figure 2. Pragmatic functions of vamos in the PRESEEA corpus of Granada.
Figure 2. Pragmatic functions of vamos in the PRESEEA corpus of Granada.
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Figure 3. Average use of vamos according to the gender of the informants in the sample.
Figure 3. Average use of vamos according to the gender of the informants in the sample.
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Figure 4. Use of vamos as a rectifying reformulator according to the gender of the subjects.
Figure 4. Use of vamos as a rectifying reformulator according to the gender of the subjects.
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Figure 5. Use of the vamos marker according to the generational group of speakers.
Figure 5. Use of the vamos marker according to the generational group of speakers.
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Figure 6. Estimated averages of the functions of vamos according to the generational group of speakers.
Figure 6. Estimated averages of the functions of vamos according to the generational group of speakers.
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Figure 7. Estimated average use of vamos by educational level.
Figure 7. Estimated average use of vamos by educational level.
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Figure 8. Use of vamos functions by educational level.
Figure 8. Use of vamos functions by educational level.
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Figure 9. Percentage values of vamos according to the type of a speech act in which it appears.
Figure 9. Percentage values of vamos according to the type of a speech act in which it appears.
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Figure 10. Percentage of use of vamos according to their position in the discourse.
Figure 10. Percentage of use of vamos according to their position in the discourse.
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Table 1. Distribution of informants according to age, gender, and educational level.
Table 1. Distribution of informants according to age, gender, and educational level.
Education Level1st Generation
2nd Generation
3rd Generation
(55 and Older)
Table 2. Distribution of the frequencies of vamos according to social factors such as age, gender, and social status.
Table 2. Distribution of the frequencies of vamos according to social factors such as age, gender, and social status.
Education Level1st Generation2nd Generation3rd GenerationTotal
(20–34 y/o)(35–54 y/o)(55 y/o and Older)
Table 3. Data from the Kruskal–Wallis ANOVA on the functions of vamos and the gender variable.
Table 3. Data from the Kruskal–Wallis ANOVA on the functions of vamos and the gender variable.
χ2p Value
Explanation reformulator1.2810.258
Rectifying reformulator13.0260.000
Table 4. Data from the Kruskal–Wallis ANOVA on the functions of vamos and the age variable.
Table 4. Data from the Kruskal–Wallis ANOVA on the functions of vamos and the age variable.
χ2p Value
Explanation reformulator14.5190.001
Rectifying reformulator3.3250.190
Table 5. Data from the Kruskal–Wallis ANOVA test on the functions of vamos and the education variable.
Table 5. Data from the Kruskal–Wallis ANOVA test on the functions of vamos and the education variable.
χ2p Value
Explanation reformulator5.4450.066
Rectifying reformulator56.6710.000
Table 6. Cramer’s V Coefficient results for the social variables under consideration.
Table 6. Cramer’s V Coefficient results for the social variables under consideration.
Cramer’s V = 1 The Highest Degree of Association
Educational level0.786
Cramer’s V = 0 No Association
Table 7. Combination of the vamos marker with other connection units.
Table 7. Combination of the vamos marker with other connection units.
CombinationCases (N)Relative Frequencies
Vamos followed by que4516.67%
Vamos preceded by conjunction7226.67%
Vamos preceded by marker72.59%
Vamos followed by conjunction165.92%
Vamos followed by marker145.18%
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Ruiz-González, N. Movement Verbs as Discourse Markers in Spanish: The Case of Vamos in the City of Granada, Spain. Languages 2021, 6, 156.

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Ruiz-González N. Movement Verbs as Discourse Markers in Spanish: The Case of Vamos in the City of Granada, Spain. Languages. 2021; 6(4):156.

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Ruiz-González, Natalia. 2021. "Movement Verbs as Discourse Markers in Spanish: The Case of Vamos in the City of Granada, Spain" Languages 6, no. 4: 156.

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