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Der Schein trügt nämlich 

Zurück zum Heft: Linguistische Berichte Heft 219
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The German particle nämlich is puzzling because it seems to have two independent semantic functions which strictly correlate with specific syntactic environments: if nämlich precedes an ,,orphan constituent" (Haegeman 1991) it specifies an underspecified discourse referent in the previous clause, and if nämlich appears in a whole clause its function is marking that the hostclause delivers an explanation to the previous clause. A polysemy- or even homonymy-analysis seems problematic precisely because of this strict correlation between syntactic environment and semantic function. In this paper we propose a unified analysis of nämlich. We argue that nämlich marks the property of the context that there is an implicit question to which the host of nämlich delivers a direct (short) answer (Jacobson 2008). Crucially, constituents are good short answers to constituent-questions (Who?), while whole clauses are only good short-answers to ,,sentence"-questions like Why p? Building on these intuitions we show how both readings of nämlich can systematically be derived and implement our analysis formally.