Chapter 11 Why the Meaning of Discourse Particles is Separated from Focus-Background Structure

In: Secondary Content
Author: Joachim Jacobs

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German discourse particles are semantically/pragmatically separated from focus-background structure: Neither can their meanings be in narrow focus nor can they be included in a broad focus or in the background. I argue that this follows from independently justified assumptions: a) Discourse particles are expressive elements and therefore their meanings cannot be in the scope of other meaning components. b) Focus-background structure is always in the scope of operators. These assumptions, together with a more specific constraint on addressee-oriented expressives, explain the separation of DPRT meanings from focus-background structure. Possible counterevidence comes from stressed uses of some particles in which they have an effect similar to verum focus. But the particle variants involved in these cases have a descriptive meaning component which is not subject to the scope restrictions holding for expressive meanings and therefore can be put into focus.

Secondary Content

The Semantics and Pragmatics of Side Issues