DGfS 2016 | 24.-26.2.2016

38. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft

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AG 5: The grammatical realization of polarity. Theoretical and experimental approaches

Prof. Dr. Christine Dimroth, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germanistisches Institut, Schlossplatz 34, 48143 Münster, Tel. 0049 251 83-24141, christine.dimroth@uni-muenster.de

Dr. Stefan Sudhoff, Universiteit Utrecht, Utrecht Institute of Linguistics OTS, Trans 10, 3515JK Utrecht, Niederlande Tel. +31 (0)30 253-6175 s.sudhoff@uu.nl


The expression of polarity contrast that is particularly prominent in languages like German and Dutch has recently been in the centre of empirical as well as theoretical investigations. In these languages, contrasts between statements with negative and positive polarity are marked with the help of prosody (nuclear pitch accent on the finite verb or complementizer, i.e. verum focus, cf. Höhle 1992) or assertive particles (wel/wohl; toch/doch; schon) that also carry focal stress (contributions by Blühdorn and Sudhoff in Lohnstein & Blühdorn 2012; Turco et al. 2014).

To date there is no consensus on the exact meaning contribution of these devices or on the kind of contrast that is actually evoked. Possibilities under discussion include assertion vs. non-assertion, polarity, illocution, and sentence mood. Other open questions concern the fate of the verum operator in case it is not focused, the question how similar assertive particles and verum focus really are, how comparable contexts are expressed in other languages, what the specific parameters of the prosodic marking of verum focus are, and how they relate to other kinds of prosodic focus marking. With few exceptions, this vivid debate is not informed by empirical data.

The workshop wants to bring together researchers from a theoretical and an empirical orientation and to enhance our understanding of the phenomenon with the help of cross-linguistic comparisons. It mainly focuses on (but is not restricted to) West-Germanic languages. We welcome contributions dealing with the syntactic, semantic, pragmatic and/or prosodic aspects of the phenomenon.

Höhle, Tilman. 1992. Über Verum-Fokus im Deutschen. In Joachim Jacobs (ed.), Informationsstruktur und Grammatik, 112 – 141. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag.
Lohnstein, Horst & Hardarik Blühdorn (eds.). 2012. Wahrheit – Fokus – Negation. Linguistische Berichte, Sonderheft 18.
Turco, Giuseppina, Bettina Braun & Christine Dimroth. 2014. When contrasting polarity, Germans use intonation, the Dutch particles. Journal of Pragmatics 62, 94 – 106.


Mittwoch, 24. Februar 2016
14:00 - 14:30

Christine Dimroth, Stefan Sudhoff:

The grammatical realization of polarity. Introductory remarks

14:30 - 15:00

Beata Gyuris:

On two types of polar interrogatives in Hungarian and their interaction with inside and outside negation

15:00 - 16:00

Horst Lohnstein:

Verum focus and contrast

16:00 - 16:30Kaffeepause
16:30 - 17:00

Peter Öhl:

Negative polarity, focus accent and the embedding of interrogatives by veridical predicates

17:00 - 17:30

Julia Bacskai-Atkari:

Complementisers as markers of negative polarity in German comparatives

17:30 - 18:00

Unaisa Khir Eldeen:

Can but be a negative polarity item?

18:00 - 18:30

Leah Roberts & Beatrice Szczepek-Reed:

Establishing polarity contrasts in English: Evidence from analyses of natural conversations


Donnerstag, 25. Februar 2016

9:00 - 10:00

Giuseppina Turco:

Contrasting polarity: Verum focus and affirmative particles in Germanic and Romance languages

10:00 - 11:00

Berry Claus, Marlijn Meijer, Sophie Repp, Manfred Krifka:

Polarity particles in response to negated antecedents: Two groups of speakers for German ja and nein

11:00 - 11:30Kaffeepause
11:30 - 12:00

Cecilia Andorno & Claudia Crocco:

In search for verum focus marking in Italian: a contribution from Map Tasks data

12:00 - 12:30

Heiko Seeliger, Sophie Repp:

Rejections and rejecting questions: Declaratives with clause-initial negation in Swedish

12:30 - 13:00

Anja Arnhold, Bettina Braun, Filippo Domaneschi, Maribel Romero:

Prosodic realization of Verum Focus in English polar questions


Freitag, 26. Februar 2016

11:30 - 12:00

Dejan Matić, Irina Nikolaeva:

Polarity focus across languages: Processes vs. things

12:00 - 13:00

Daniel Gutzmann, Katharina Hartmann, Lisa Matthewson:

Cross-linguistic evidence that verum ≠ focus

13:00 - 13:30

Davide Garassino, Daniel Jacob:

Non Canonical Syntax and Polarity Focus in French, Italian, and Spanish

13:30 - 14:00

Kyoko Sano:

Assertion and Polarity in –koso –e construction in Old Japanese