Chapter published in:Focus on Additivity: Adverbial modifiers in Romance, Germanic and Slavic languages
Edited by Anna-Maria De Cesare and Cecilia Andorno
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 278] 2017
► pp. 201–234
The scalar operator even and its German equivalents
Pragmatic and syntactic factors determining the use of auch, selbst and sogar in the Europarl corpus
The English scalar additive operator even has a broad distribution, e.g. insofar as it is used in upward- as well as downward-entailing contexts. Other languages, such as German, use a variety of expressions to render the function(s) of even. The question arises what conditions and determines the use of the various operators of German. The present study addresses this question with respect to the particles selbst, sogar and auch as translation equivalents of even in upward-entailing contexts. On the basis of a sample of 300 translation pairs from the Europarl corpus, the influence of four syntactic and three pragmatic variables on the choice of an operator in German is investigated. The results show that the operators are mainly sensitive to two of the pragmatic variables, the presence or absence of overt focus alternatives in the clausal environment, and the size of the set of alternatives. From a syntatic point of view, a clear difference between selbst and sogar is shown, with selbst exhibiting a tendency to attach to higher levels of syntax than sogar. The quantitative findings are interpreted against the background of historical developments, the assumption being that synchronic distributions reflect diachronic developments (‘distributional intertia’).
Keywords: focus, focus operator, scope, scales, annotation, alternatives, distributional inertia, translation
Published online: 24 August 2017
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