Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton 2020

On the role of the left periphery in the interpretation of causal Wo-VE-clauses

From the book Verb Second
Sonja Taigel


The paper is concerned with a peripheral type of assertion in German, the Wo-verb-end-declarative clause. In passing, namely serving the purpose of offering a comparison, it also looks at declarative verb-first-clauses. An analysis is suggested which accounts for its grammatical and interpretative properties. The characteristics which have to be captured are the clause’s postpositioning, the typical occurrence of the modal particle doch, its concessive and causal interpretation, its modal causal readings as well as an expressive meaning component. The two factors held mainly responsible for the clause’s interpretation in this article are the context and the contribution by doch. Verb positioning, on the contrary, does not seem to play an active role in explaining the properties. The suggestion in the literature that the clauses always presuppose their contents will be rejected. Evidence provided in favour of the proposed modelling comes from distributions in corpus data and from a judgement study. Overall, the paper argues that the factors which determine the sentence’s readings can be precisely identified and are transparently used. It is not necessary to adopt the view that the Wo-VE-clauses is a construction.

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