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(The) fact is … /(Die) Tatsache ist … focaliser constructions in English and German are similar but subject to different constraints


Hundt, Marianne; Oppliger, Rahel (2022). (The) fact is … /(Die) Tatsache ist … focaliser constructions in English and German are similar but subject to different constraints. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 27(1):1-30.

Abstract

N-is/ist 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 N-is constructions as focalisers.

Abstract

N-is/ist 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 N-is constructions as focalisers.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
06 Faculty of Arts > Zurich Center for Linguistics
Dewey Decimal Classification:420 English & Old English languages
820 English & Old English literatures
Uncontrolled Keywords:Linguistics and Language, Language and Linguistics, N-is construction, construction grammar, contrastive analysis, usage-based probabilistic modelling, variable article use
Language:English
Date:22 March 2022
Deposited On:24 Jan 2022 15:54
Last Modified:26 Jun 2024 01:50
Publisher:John Benjamins Publishing
ISSN:1384-6655
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1075/ijcl.17073.hun
Related URLs:https://www.jbe-platform.com/content/journals/10.1075/ijcl.17073.hun (Publisher)