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Zur Distribution von Irrelevanzpartikeln in ‚was immer‘/‚auch‘-Konstruktionen

Tom Bossuyt


Pages 45 - 70



The present study is concerned with the distributional patterns of the so-called “irrelevance particles” immer ‘ever’ and auch in German universal concessive conditionals and free rela-tives (e.g. was immer wir auch versuchen ‘whatever we try’). In contrast to languages such as English, where irrelevance is conveyed by a single element in a fixed position (-ever), Ger-man has multiple positions for and combinations of immer and auch, whose distribution is mostly simplified in reference works on German syntax and grammar. Following the example of a previous study by Leuschner (2000), the present study aims at a more adequate descrip-tion of the particle distribution, based on a significantly larger sample of 8734 clauses with the WH-word was ‘what’ from the DeReKo-corpus. The distributional patterns in subordinate clauses (‘primary constructions’) and their elliptically reduced forms (‘secondary constructions’) are analysed using statistical methods, and the functional motivation of the patterns is analy-sed. It is concluded that need for disambiguation and ease of reanalysis play an important role in the rise of the respective patterns and of secondary constructions from primary ones.

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