Edited by Remus Gergel, Ingo Reich and Augustin Speyer
[Studies in Language Companion Series 224] 2022
► pp. 269–296
This study concentrates on the use of modal particles (MPs) in non-standard questions (such as rhetorical questions or surprise-disapproval questions), both in German and in French. For French, the items considered here as MPs are bien, diable and donc. Their behavior in non-standard questions is interpreted in the light of Bayer & Obenauer’s (2011) proposal for German non-standard questions. Special attention is devoted to the “Small PrtP construction” where the particle combines with a wh-item. I discuss the hypothesis of a specific path of pragmaticalization for particles in non-standard wh-questions that would involve focus-sensitivity. Starting from the MP-equivalent uses of French and German focus particles seulement and nur, I turn to bien, donc and diable, three particles that are not subject to focus-sensitivity. All three items have other uses outside of interrogative contexts where they either interact preferably with items denoting sets of alternatives, or where they are used to mark the high degree of a quality or the atypicality of an entity. From these usages, I derive the semantic value associated with each particle in non-standard questions. The conclusion is that sensitivity to scales and sets of alternatives is very likely to play a major role in the rise of illocution-modifying particles in wh-questions.