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A semantic typology of sentence connectives

  • Connectives are conjunctions, prepositions, adverbs and other particles which share the function of encoding semantic relations between sentences, or rather, between semantic objects some of which can be meanings of sentences. The relata linked by any such relation will fall into one of four distinct categories: they will be physical objects, states of affairs, propositions, or pragmatic options (the atoms of human interaction). Physical objects constitute the conceptual domain of space, states of affairs the domain of time, propositions the epistemic domain, and pragmatic options the deontic domain. The relations encodable in any of these domains can be divided into four basic types: similarity relations, situating relations, conditional relations, and causal relations. Conceptual domains and types of relations define the universe of possible connections between semantic objects. Connectives differ as to the interpretations they permit in terms of conceptual domains and types of relations. Very few connectives are specialized on relata of one certain category and relations of one certain type. Possible examples in German are später (‘later on’) and zwischenzeitlich (‘in the meantime’), which encode situating relations between states of affairs. Other connectives are specialized on relata of one certain category, but are underspecified with respect to the type of relation. An example is German sobald (‘as soon as’), which can only connect states of affairs, but accepts situating, conditional and causal readings. Connectives of a third group are specialized on relations of a certain type, but are underspecified with respect to the category of the relata. Examples of this kind are German weil (‘because’) and trotzdem (‘nevertheless’), which encode causal relations, but accept states of affairs, propositions and pragmatic options as their relata. Connectives of a fourth group are underspecified both for the category of relata and the type of relation. An example is German da (‘there’), which accepts relata of any category and allows for situating, conditional and causal readings. Connectives like und (‘and’) and oder (‘or’) exhibit an even higher degree of under specification, in that they allow for all kinds of relations and relata.

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Author:Hardarik Blühdorn
Parent Title (German):40 Jahre Partikelforschung
Series (Serial Number):Stauffenburg Linguistik (55)
Place of publication:Tübingen
Editor:Theo Harden, Elke Hentschel
Document Type:Part of a Book
Year of first Publication:2010
Date of Publication (online):2017/03/07
Tag:adverb; conjunction; connectives; grammatical particle; preposition
GND Keyword:Logische Partikel; Satzverbindung
First Page:215
Last Page:231
Dewey Decimal Classification:400 Sprache / 400 Sprache, Linguistik
Open Access?:ja
Leibniz-Classification:Sprache, Linguistik
Licence (German):Es gilt das UrhG