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Verumfokus im Deutschen: Versuch einer Synthese

  • Proceeding from the central ideas of the papers contained in this volume, the closing article sets out to achieve a unified theory of the syntax and semantics of verum focus, to be illustrated for the sentence and clause types of present day German. In German, verum focus is realized phonologically by means of pitch accents on morphosyntactic exponents of various classes: finite verb forms, complementizers and subordinators, interrogative and relative phrases, and modal particles. In the first half of the article, these constituents - most of which reside in the left periphery of the sentence or clause - are shown to share the gramma-tical function of distinguishing between sentence moods and other categories of clauses. This observation gives rise to the assumption that verum focus should be explicable as contrastive focus on semantically distinctive features or components of sentence mood and clause type. In the second half of the article this assumption is spelt out for the sentence and clause types of German. We propose a universal semantic structure of sentence meaning which makes it possible to reduce the most typical cases of verum focus and their diverse contextual interpretations to highlighting the connection between the sentence/clause and its textual or dis-course environment. This connection is syntactically implemented by an element occupying the head position of CP: either a finite verb form or a complementizer/subordinator. Realizations of verum focus on prefield constituents in wh- and relative clauses are explained as phonetic remedies deployed when a connecting element in C° is missing. Focusing of modal particles in the middle field and of verb forms in the right periphery of the clause are shown to differ semantically from verum focus stricto sensu, although they have similar pragmatic effects. The theory is built exclusively on assumptions needed for independent reasons and dispenses with the problematic verum operator assumed in most traditional accounts.

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Author:Hardarik Blühdorn, Horst Lohnstein
Parent Title (German):Wahrheit - Fokus - Negation
Series (Serial Number):Linguistische Berichte - Sonderhefte (18)
Place of publication:Hamburg
Editor:Horst Lohnstein, Hardarik Blühdorn
Document Type:Part of a Book
Year of first Publication:2012
Date of Publication (online):2017/03/07
GND Keyword:Akzent; Deutsch; Finite Verbform; Negation
First Page:171
Last Page:261
DDC classes:400 Sprache / 430 Deutsch
Open Access?:ja
Leibniz-Classification:Sprache, Linguistik
Licence (German):License LogoUrheberrechtlich geschützt