Project A8

3rd Phase - Structuring linguistic information using discourse particles

Discourse particles (DiPs; also known as modal particles) are an important means of modifying and administrating the common ground, because they create and refer to relations between utterances and belief states or rhetorical backgrounds in a discourse (individual backgrounds of the interlocutors or common ground). They are lexical means of givenness of propositions in such backgrounds and therefore grammatical reflexes of IS, i.e., they mark the information structural status of linguistic constituents and interact with structural markers of IS. Many DiPs play an information structural role on the textual level, too, because they are used for the organisation of texts (since they are cohesive devices just like other kinds of anaphors) and interact with discourse structure in this task.

The project has three subparts: Part 1 thoroughly analyses DiPs in their function as markers of IS. This analysis extends the basis for investigations of IS and will provide the framework in which to describe the semantic construction for DiPs. In Part 2, we will focus on the interaction between DiPs and structural means of marking IS, which encompasses in particular the relation between stressed and unstressed usages of DiPs and their syntactic and semantic differences, which we want to capture as a result of this interaction. Part 3 discusses the way in which DiPs contribute to the textual organisation and their interaction with discourse structures. We want to annotate and to evaluate these using the comments in the Potsdam Commentary Corpus. We hypothesise that DiPs (just like other cohesive devices) do not run in close parallel with discourse structure in persuasive parts of the comments, while they are closely aligned with discourse structure in descriptive parts of the comments

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Principal Investigators

  • Prof. Dr. Markus Egg

Former Staff Members

  • Sophia Döring
  • Beate Bergmann
  • Heiko Seeliger

Student Assistants

  • Tobias Voy
  • Julius Herrmann


May 2014 Invited Talk Egg, M.: The semantics and pragmatics of discourse particles. Universität Frankfurt
March 2014 Talk Egg, M. & Mursell, J.: On the syntax and semantics of discourse particles. Workshop The Syntax and Semantics of Particles, DGfS-Jahrestagung, Universität Marburg.
February 2014 Talk Mursell, J.: Discourse Particles and the Syntax-Pragmatics Interface. KonferenzLE 2014, Universität Tübingen.
February 2014 Poster Döring, S. & Repp, S.: Modal particles and discourse coherence: Corpus and experimental evidence. Linguistic Evidence, Tübingen
January 2014 Poster Döring, S.: The Interaction between Modal Particles and Discourse Coherence: Empirical Evidence. ConSOLE XXII, Lisbon.
October 2013 Talk Mursell, J.: Discourse Particles and their Interactions in the Clause. Universität Wien.
August 2013 Talk Döring, S.: The Interplay of Modal Particles and Discourse Relations. ESSLLI 2013, Workshop on “Discourse Coherence, Information Structure, and Implicatures”, Düsseldorf.
May 2013 Poster Bergmann, B.: On-line Activation of Inferences. The Role of Discourse Particles in Language Comprehension. Euro-XPrag Masterclass, UCL London.
May 2013 Poster Döring, S.: Modal Particles in Discourse. Euro-XPrag Masterclass, UCL London.
April 2013 Talk Egg, M.: Discourse particles and common ground management. Leiden-Utrecht Semantic Happenings, Universiteit Leiden.
March 2012 Workshop Egg, M.: Accented discourse particles in questions and answers. Workshop ”Information structure of non-assertive speech acts", DGfS-Jahrestagung, Universität Frankfurt.
February 2012 Workshop Egg, M.: Discourse particles and common ground management. 13th Szklarska Poreba Workshop.
September 2011 Talk Egg, M.: Discourse particles between cohesion and coherence. Constraints in Discourse 2011, Agay, France.
September 2011 Talk Egg, M. & Zimmermann, M.: Stressed out! Accented discourse particles - the case of DOCH. Sinn und Bedeutung 16, Universiteit Utrecht.
August 2011 Talk Egg, M.:Discourse particles and speech acts. Workshop Formal approaches to discourse particles and modal adverbs, ESSLLI 2011, Laibach, Slovenia.
February 2011 Talk Egg, M., van der Vliet, N., Berzlanovich, I., Bouma, G. & Redeker, G.: Building a discourse-annotated text corpus. Workshop Beyond Semantics, DGfS-Jahrestagung, Universität Göttingen.
February 2011 Talk Egg, M.: Building a discourse-annotated text corpus. Workshop Beyond Semantics, DGfS-Jahrestagung, Universität Göttingen.
January 2011 Talk Döring, S.: The Focus Sensitivity of Sentence Adverbs. ConSOLE XIX 2011, Groningen.
September 2010 Talk Egg, M.: A unified account of the semantics of discourse particles. WSIGDIAL 2010, University of Tokyo.
September 2010 Talk Egg, M.: How complex is discourse structure? Anglistentag 2010, Universität Saarbrücken.
May 2010 Talk Egg, M.: How complex is discourse structure? LREC 2010, University of Malta.