Weeber, Frederike (2023). The German indefinite pronoun 'ein(er)'. Interpretation and discourse linking. PhD thesis, Universität zu Köln.

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This dissertation is an in depth investigation of structural, semantic, and pragmatic properties of the German indefinite pronoun 'ein(er)'. Focusing on the differentiation between an elliptic and a partitive interpretation, it illustrates the importance of investigating different types of discourse linking as well as brings together different topics and research questions, such as anaphoric reference, the structural makeup of pronouns, ellipsis, and partitivity, that previously have been mostly treated separately in the literature. The German pronoun 'ein(er)' shows a number of interesting semantic and pragmatic properties as it can be interpreted in many different ways, e.g. it can refer to an unknown human referent or to a member of a set that is present in the discourse. Importantly, some of these interpretations are anaphoric, the pronoun thus takes part in discourse linking. Taking formal considerations, semantic restrictions and discourse requirements into account, I propose a new classification of six different interpretations of the pronoun 'ein(er)': independent, impersonal, cataphoric, elliptic, partitive, and lexicalized. Importantly, I argue that there are two types of anaphoric interpretations of the indefinite pronoun 'ein(er)': a simple elliptic interpretation that is due to the ellipsis of a simple noun phrase, and a partitive interpretation which is based on a canonical partitive phrase. The dissertation furthermore presents new experimental evidence from three rating studies that concentrate on interpretational preferences in examples where 'ein(er)' is in principle ambiguous between an elliptic, a partitive, and an independent interpretation. It is shown that the different types of linking involved affect interpretational preferences and that the factor grammatical role interacts with it. The experimental data thus highlights the importance of investigating different types of discourse linking and the role of indefinite pronouns in discourse.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-704310
Date: 2023
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Fächergruppe 3: Deutsche Sprache und Literatur > Institut für Deutsche Sprache und Literatur I
Subjects: Language, Linguistics
Uncontrolled Keywords:
indefinite pronounsUNSPECIFIED
German linguisticsUNSPECIFIED
discourse linkingUNSPECIFIED
Date of oral exam: 14 July 2022
NameAcademic Title
von Heusinger, KlausProf. Dr.
Refereed: Yes
URI: http://kups.ub.uni-koeln.de/id/eprint/70431


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