Volume 27, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1384-6655
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9811
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constructions are elements in the left periphery of English/German sentences that have developed pragmatic meaning: they can be used as discourse markers with various functions, depending on the nominal element that is used in the construction. We use evidence from parallel and comparable corpora of English and German to investigate variable article use in these focaliser constructions and model factors that may play a role in article omission/retention (such as modification, choice of head noun, degree of syntactic integration of the focaliser). Our evidence shows that article use largely depends on the lexical head in German but is constrained by different factors in English (notably modification). We interpret our results against the backdrop of construction grammar, arguing that article omission plays a different role in the two languages. From a contrastive point of view, formal syntactic separation in English is easier to achieve than in German and thus facilitates use of English constructions as focalisers.


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