Interpreting concessive adverbial markers in English and Norwegian discourse

in Information Structure in a Cross-Linguistic Perspective
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The first part of this paper is a comparison of concessive markers in English and Norwegian. While the English lexicon contains a number of functionally very closely related concessive markers, Norwegian uses one word, likevel, that covers the whole range of functions of its set of English glosses. It is argued (a) that likevel has a univocal lexical meaning, implying that its context-dependent interpretation involves enrichment, as understood in Sperber and Wilson’s Relevance Theory, rather than disambiguation of a multiply ambiguous (polysemous) marker, and (b) that the inferential processing of likevel is constrained by its information-structuring sentence position and prosody. The second part addresses the established truth that concessive modifiers take maximal scope; it is shown that Norwegian differs from English in that the concessive adjunct for det (om) (lit: "for that (if)") contradicts the noted generalisation about concessives and scope relations.

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