RUB » Linguistik » Profil » Projects » Preposition-Noun Sequences

DFG project: Position und Interpretation von adverbialen PPen im deutschen Satz
(Position and Interpretation of Adverbials in German clauses)

Funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (KI-759/8-1)
from January 2017 to December 2019

Project leader

Prof. Dr. Tibor Kiss

Project team

Alicia Katharina Börner M.A., wiss. Mitarbeiterin
Sebastian Zimmermann, stud. Hilfskraft

Description of project

The interaction between the syntactic position and the interpretation of adverbials in German clauses has been the subject of a recent debate, starting with Frey and Pittner (1998), Maienborn (2001), and Haider (2000, 2013).

A major deficiency of the debate is the lack of a coherent definition of the pertinent adverbial classes itself. Definitions are often provided in the form of individual illustrations, from which properties of the classes should be tacitly derived. In addition, various proposals do not consider different meanings of polysemous adverbials. Finally, the empirical base of the proposals must be doubted: judgments are mostly those of the authors itself. What is more, the judgments are not corroborated by systematically varying adverbial phrases, which apparently belong to the same class, or contrasting adverbials, which are postulated to belong to different classes.

The present proposal addresses the three proposed classes that make up the core of the proposals: event-external, event-internal, and process related adverbials.

The project starts with an extraction of the pertinent data from an annotated Swiss-German newspaper corpus, where the preposition senses have been annotated in accord with Kiss et al. (2016). Thus, we are able to take into account varying interpretations and preposition forms.

Constraints on interpretation imposed by syntactic positions become visible only if specific syntactic contexts are established, which are unlikely to be directly extracted from corpora in sufficient quantity. Hence, the project will derive experimental data from the corpus data, where the transformations required to turn the corpus data into experimental data conforming to the required contexts are annotated, and hence the relation between the corpus data and the experimental data becomes transparent. The derived data form the basis for the experiments, which aim to clarify whether a systematic approach to the empirical phenomena allows the development of a theory of the interaction between position and interpretation of adverbial PPs, which is the ultimate goal of the present proposal.