Position and Interpretation of Adverbials in German Clauses
Prof. Dr. Tibor Kiss
Funded by the German Research Foundation (KI-759/8-1)
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
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.