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On the interpretation of modal particles in non-assertive speech acts in German and Bellunese

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Abstract

In this article, we analyze the syntactic and semantic properties of modal particles appearing in non-assertive speech acts in German and in Bellunese. We propose that modal particles in exclamations and special questions function as evidential markers interacting with the evaluative component to derive the diverse expressive meanings. In order to provide an adequate syntactic account of the distribution of these particles, we propose that they occupy head positions in Bellunese, but are specifiers of their respective functional projections in German, and that their semantic impact requires the syntactic representation of separate evaluational and evidential phrases pertaining to speaker and hearer as well as the syntactic representation of the speech act operator. The intrinsic relation between the evidence of a discourse participant and his evaluation is made visible by the interaction of modal particles in evidential projections and an autosegmental intonational morpheme in the evaluative projection in German and by a paradigm of minimal oppositions of particles occupying the evidential projections in Bellunese.

References

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