P5 Description

The project investigates deliberative questions in German and other languages. We take German verb-end questions as our starting point. They share the syntax of embedded clauses but can be used as independent utterances: Ob es morgen wohl regnet? “will it rain tomorrow, I wonder”.

Form: Verb-end questions are usually also marked with the particle wohl, which for constituent-verb-end questions is mandatory. Verb-end questions in their deliberative sense end with a rising tone. This distinguishes them from repeat questions (used to remind the addressee that the discourse contains an unaddressed question).

Meaning: We pursue the hypothesis that deliberative verb-end questions do not request an answer (although they allow for comments). This hypothesis is investigated in terms of Table Models.

Information structure: The almost obligatory particle wohl leads to varied effects in terms of information structure. These have repercussions on the types of situations that allow a specific deliberative question. We investigate the information structure patterns for verb-end questions and the link to situations that allow for their use. Given that they exhibit the underlying word order of German and are non-embedded, verb-end questions provide an optimal data basis for research of focus effects in questions in general.