Edited by Thierry Ruchot and Pascale Van Praet
[Lingvisticæ Investigationes Supplementa 33] 2016
► pp. 243–264
The objective of the present paper is to demonstrate that it is possible to measure and situate an atypical construction. The focus will be on a “satellite” modal verb in modern German: the verb brauchen followed by an infinitive construction, and therefore marked or not marked as an infinitive complementation. Referring to descriptive grammars, the first part will summarize the typical construction of modal verbs in German and of the verb brauchen + infinitive and diverging opinions on the structure (nicht) brauchen + infinitive verb without any marker. The second part presents a corpus-based analysis of European newspapers in German-speaking regions over the last ten years areas. Observations and quantifications will show that there are important differences between Northern and Southern Germany, Southern Germany and Austria, Austria and Switzerland. The third part is a contextual study of non-marked infinitive constructions following brauchen which leads to syntactic, semantic and pragmatic analyses of the occurrences. In the pragmatic study we will consider the context of the occurrences so that written and oral conception will be discussed. The pragmatic study will show some recurrent speech acts. The last part reflects upon the semantics of brauchen inside the modality as one of the means to express necessity, similarities and differences with müssen, and at least the geographic factors that could explain the phenomenon of variation.