September 14, 2018
In this paper, I provide an alternative psycholinguistic interpretation of so-called brace constructions in German. Brace constructions (e. g. “Thomas muss morgen eine Klausur schreiben .” or “… wenn Thomas morgen eine Klausur schreibt .” ) can be regarded as the typical structural features of German. The analysis proposed in this article is based on linguistic phenomena which can be observed in language production of both L2 learners and native speakers. The aim of my analysis is to develop a preliminary model that reflects aspects of human language processing. The model is based on the concept of tension that arises during the language production process in case of the analytical realization of certain lexical concepts (in the case of so-called separable verbs) or grammatical concepts (including tense, passive, modality, subject). The elements involved in an analytical realization are conceptually (lexically or grammatically) combined but they have to be separated from one another in serialization and placed in a distance structure. From this interpretation, the typical structural features of German are, above all, distance structures, which consist of the finite auxiliary or modal verb and the full verb in main clauses, and in subordinate clauses of the subject and the finite verb due to subject-verb agreement. The proposed Model provides explanations also for other interlanguage phenomena associated with structural aspects in other languages. On the basis of this concept of tension, other learning difficulties can also be predicted, which can arise in the learning of certain corresponding structures in certain languages.