Chapter published in:Linguistic Foundations of Narration in Spoken and Sign Languages
Edited by Annika Hübl and Markus Steinbach
[Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today 247] 2018
► pp. 119–142
A centering theoretic account for the changing usage of anaphoric expressions in the history of German
The Centering status of a referent and the coherence relation of the discourse unit in which the referent is used are potential factors for anaphor resolution. In Old High German, as exemplified with Otfrid’s Evangelienbuch, there is a strong tendency for this generalisation – Backward looking centers in Continue relations tend to be realised by personal pronouns, in Retain and Shift relations, they tend to be realised by demonstrative pronouns – but it is far from categorical. There are even blatant violations of generalizations that hold for Modern German, so the importance of Centering as a factor is higher today than in Old High German. In Early New High German of the 14th century, anaphora resolution was sensitive to Centering. The hierarchical structure of a text played a bigger role, as adjacency was defined not strictly linearly, but with respect to discourse units on the same hierarchical level.
Published online: 25 May 2018
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