Viesel, Yvonne and Freitag, Constantin (2019). Natural and experimental data on German discourse particles in rhetorical questions. Z. Sprachwiss., 38 (2). S. 243 - 299. BERLIN: DE GRUYTER MOUTON. ISSN 1613-3706

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The article explores German discourse particles (DiPs) in rhetorical wh-questions (wh-RQs). While schon (roughly 'unexpectedly') only marks rhetorical wh-questions, denn (roughly 'I wonder') marks contextually arising information-seeking or rhetorical Questions under Discussion (QuDs), with or without schon. Since ja (roughly 'unquestionably') marks shared information, it is incompatible with questions by itself, but occasionally occurs in wh-RQs left of DiPs like schon instead of denn. The results of two acceptability judgment experiments confirm that ja is strongly dispreferred in RQs, the presence of schon improves RQs with and without ja, and denn has no effect on acceptability. A follow-up study further indicated the rhetorical reading of our target questions to prevail independently from DiPs. We conclude that ja in RQs operates on the information contributed by elements like schon, denoting roughly that the issue in question arises 'unquestionably against expectations'. Our contexts were neutral regarding the discourse functions of ja and denn (side remarks vs. QuDs), unlike the contexts of the findings, from which we deduce that the marked ja schon-RQs, while grammatical, require specific felicity conditions. A first attempt to confirm this experimentally was globally unsuccessful and could only reveal potential hints in an exploratory analysis.

Item Type: Journal Article
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-129972
DOI: 10.1515/zfs-2019-2003
Journal or Publication Title: Z. Sprachwiss.
Volume: 38
Number: 2
Page Range: S. 243 - 299
Date: 2019
Place of Publication: BERLIN
ISSN: 1613-3706
Language: English
Faculty: Unspecified
Divisions: Unspecified
Subjects: no entry
Uncontrolled Keywords:
MODAL PARTICLES; NEEDSMultiple languages
Linguistics; Language & LinguisticsMultiple languages
Refereed: Yes


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