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Modal particles in rationale clauses and related constructions

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Abstract

This paper discusses the connection between sentential modality (e.g. the modality introduced by a modal auxiliary such as <i>may</i> or <i>must</i>) and the force of an utterance. This connection is explored with a focus on the German particles <i>ruhig</i>/<i>blo&#223;</i>/<i>JA</i>, which typically occur in modalized declaratives and in imperatives, indicating a connection between the two types of utterances. This paper poses the question of how to account for such particles in rationale clauses, which cannot be trivially analyzed as modalized declaratives or imperatives. I pursue a uniform analysis of <i>ruhig</i>/<i>blo&#223;</i>/<i>JA </i>as &#8216;modal modifiers&#8217; (in the spirit of Grosz 2010, 2011), which increase the strength of a modal utterance; I argue that rationale clauses (on a par with imperatives) contain a covert modal that is best characterized as an existential modal with a modal choice function, in the spirit of Rullmann et al. (2008).

References

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