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Journal Articles Linguistic Review Year : 2011

Discourse Particles, Clause Structure, and Question Types


Discourse particles provide important clues to our understanding of the syntax-to-discourse relation. They are sensitive to sentence types and utterance contexts. As such they seem to contribute to the determination of illocutionary force. After providing some general background information on discourse particles, the present article focuses on the role of discourse particles in German constituent questions. Syntactic evidence is provided which suggests that they are pre-VP functional heads which can to some extent be stacked. It is shown how the particles under consideration can access the force system, and how this access can proceed even in cases in which they occur in embedded clauses. After providing the basic architecture, we investigate the role of these particles in "special questions", questions which are not interpreted as simple requests for information. The syntactic discussion is then extended to cases in which the discourse particle forms a constituent with a wh-phrase - [wh+Prt] - , as well as to cases in which this constituent interacts with particles in pre-VP position. The [wh+Prt] construction offers important evidence both in favor of the head status of the particles under investigation and in favor of the existence of distinctive syntactic properties of special questions, especially so-called "surprise-disapproval questions". Finally, data on surprise-disapproval questions in a Northern Italian dialect as well as in an Indo-Aryan language suggest that the findings about special questions in German are likely to fall under cross-linguistic generalizations.


Dates and versions

hal-01019950 , version 1 (07-07-2014)



Josef Bayer, Hans-Georg Obenauer. Discourse Particles, Clause Structure, and Question Types. Linguistic Review, 2011, 28 (4), pp.449-491. ⟨10.1515/tlir.2011.013⟩. ⟨hal-01019950⟩
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