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A range of uses of negative epistemic constructions in German: ICH WEIß NICHT as a resource for dispreferred actions

  • Our paper deals with the use of ICH WEIß NICHT (‘I don’t know’) in German talk-in-interaction. Pursuing an Interactional Linguistics approach, we identify different interactional uses of ICH WEIß NICHT and discuss their relationship to variation in argument structure (SV (O), (O)VS, V-only). After ICH WEIß NICHT with full complementation, speakers emphasize their lack of knowledge or display reluctance to answer. In contrast, after variants without an object complement, in contrast, speakers display uncertainty about the truth of the following proposition or about its sufficiency as an answer. Thus, while uses with both subject and object tend to close a sequence or display lack of knowledge, responses without an object, in contrast, function as a prepositioned epistemic hedge or a pragmatic marker framing the following TCU. When ICH WEIß NICHT is used in response to a statement, it indexes disagreement (independently from all complementation patterns).

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Author:Henrike HelmerORCiDGND, Silke ReinekeORCiDGND, Arnulf DeppermannORCiDGND
Parent Title (English):Journal of Pragmatics
Place of publication:Amsterdam
Document Type:Article
Year of first Publication:2016
Date of Publication (online):2018/01/05
Tag:Epistemics; German; Interactional linguistics; Mental verb constructions; Preference organization
GND Keyword:Deutsch; Epistemische Logik; Interaktion
First Page:97
Last Page:114
DDC classes:400 Sprache / 430 Deutsch
Open Access?:ja
BDSL-Classification:Sprache im 20. Jahrhundert. Gegenwartssprache
Leibniz-Classification:Sprache, Linguistik
Linguistics-Classification:Gesprächsforschung / Gesprochene Sprache
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung - Nicht kommerziell - Keine Bearbeitungen 4.0 International