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date: 14 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Focusing on German as its object language, this chapter explores the interactions between discourse particles (e.g. ja, doch) and information structure. The first half of the chapter explores the traditional idea that discourse particles form a watershed between thematic (old) and rhematic (new) information. Concerning the ‘theme’, it is argued that unstressed elements to the left of discourse particles (in the ‘middle field’ between C0 and the verbal complex) must be aboutness topics. Concerning the ‘rheme’, it is shown that the focus exponent generally has to follow discourse particles. The second half of the chapter discusses current issues relating to the interactions of discourse particles and focus. Specifically, it investigates ‘relational’ discourse particles (e.g. doch and schon), which operate on a contextually salient alternative proposition q, giving rise to a discussion of the potential role that focus may play in the interpretation of such particles.

Keywords: aboutness topic, discourse particle, focus, German, rheme, theme, watershed

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