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Bookmark and Share Paper 1508

On the Semantics of German Declarative and Interrogative Root and Complement Clauses
Kerstin Schwabe
79-91 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


The paper is about the semantics of Geman declarative and interrogative solitaires, i.e., about independently used complement clauses like Dass die U-Bahn noch fährt! (Well I never, the tube is still running!) and Was er wohl macht? (I wonder what he is doing?). It argues that the complement clause of the solitaire, like every complement clause, is an argument of a matrix predicate variable, the latter being specified by a syntactically silent matrix predicate. Whereas the semantics of this predicate is provided by the preceding question as far as answer complements are concerned, it is indeterminate with respect to soltitaires. The author shows that the semantically indeterminate matrix predicate is specified pragmatically by predicates which relate factive situations and prospectively factive situations to the agent. The theory outlined in this paper makes it possible to distinguish matrix predicates that have propositional arguments (e.g., know, believe) from those that have factive and factual state of affairs arguments (e.g., regret, want, ask) and to explain their different behavior.

Published in

Proceedings of the 2004 Texas Linguistics Society Conference: Issues at the Semantics-Pragmatics Interface
edited by Pascal Denis, Eric McCready, Alexis Palmer, and Brian Reese
Table of contents
Printed edition: $180.00