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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton 2018

Criterial Freezing in the syntax of particles

From the book Freezing

  • Josef Bayer


In this chapter, it will be shown that in the grammar of German, discourse as well as focus particles are part of the functional structure of the clause, and that in the unmarked case both types of particles take scope exactly where they are merged. Their scope must not be changed in the ongoing derivation. In other words, they are “frozen in place”. A challenge comes from those cases in which particles form constituents with sub-sentential phrases such as my bike or in which village, i.e. phrases which do not qualify as scope domains. While co-constituency with sub-sentential phrases is a widely known property of focus particles, corresponding constellations with discourse particles are less widely known and therefore more challenging. Due to this, the focus of the chapter will be on discourse particles. In part 1, I will present what I take to be the current base-line of a syntactic-semantic representation of discourse particles (in German and hopefully beyond). Part 2 develops an account of discourse particles in wh-questions and their dependence on interrogative force. Part 3 shows how discourse particles can directly combine with wh-phrases, and how the movement of phrases that are composed in such a way and their scope properties can be integrated into the account developed in part 2. Importantly, I will show that their scope freezes in a position lower than the position seen in surface structure. This finding defines the goal of our consideration of focus particles. Part 4 integrates focus particles and shows that the analysis gets close to a unified account of focus particles and discourse particles. The perspective and advantage of a unified theory of particles is commented on in section 5. Section 6 draws some conclusions.

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