April 19, 2013: Markus Egg (Humboldt University of Berlin) — LUCL

We are very happy to announce that Markus Egg (Humboldt University of Berlin) will be giving a LUSH talk entitled Discourse particles and common ground management.

Time: 15:15 – 17:00

Location:  LEIDEN, Vrieshof 4, room 012


In this talk, I will analyse the semantics of (mostly, German) discourse particles like doch in terms of their potential to manage the common ground. These particles are relations between propositions semantically, e.g., doch expresses that, according to the common ground, its first semantic argument is a potential counterargument of the second one. For instance, in (1), Max’s illness is a potential counterargument to his coming along:

(1) A:Max wird auch mitkommen. B: Er ist doch krank.

          Max  will  also  come.along     he is  DOCH ill

      ‘A: Max will come along, too. B: But he is ill.’

I will offer a monosemantic analysis that tries to captur the wide range of uses of these particles in terms of one single yet fully specified semantic representation. The different uses of the article emerge because their second argument is anaphoric and has a certain leeway in that there are several suitable kinds of antecedents. (1) is only the simplest case, in which the semantic contribution of a preceding utterance is the antecedent, but felicity conditions of previous speech acts or presuppositions can also be antecedents.

Discourse particles differ w.r.t. the logical relation they presuppose between their arguments (e.g., auch introduces a potential explanation, schon rules out a potential consequence), or w.r.t. the strength of this relation (eben as opposed to auch introduces a strict explanation). Minimal pairs of discourse that differ only in terms of a discourse particle can be explained in terms of these analyses. In an outlook on further work, I will review the issue of stressed discourse particles.


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