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Wenn man versucht, JA nichts Falsches zu sagen – Zum Auftreten von Modalpartikeln in Haupt- und Nebensätzen

Zurück zum Heft: Linguistische Berichte Heft 254
EUR 19,90

This paper is about the German modal particels ja, JA and denn. These particles occur in main clauses, complement clauses and adverbial clauses. I will argue that they are not dependent on sentence type or illocutionary force; instead, they interact with specific attitudes that are part of the extra-propositional meaning of a sentence. ja is licensed by an attitude of belief, JA by an attitude of volition and denn by an attitude of quest for knowledge. The modal particles add particular content to these attitudes. The important aspect is that this interaction works in the same way for main clauses and embedded clauses (Section 1). Section 2 deals with the question of whether the occurrence and the interpretation of modal particles are detemined by syntactic principles. It will first be shown that the assumption of a specific syntactic projection (ForceP) licensing modal particles leads to several internal contradictions and should therefore be abandoned (2.1). Second, the anchoring of modal particles is not determined by syntax; instead, any suitable attitude can be the anchoring point of the particle (2.2.). In summary, this paper is a plea for a non-syntactic, purely semantic treatment of modal particles.