Also darüber lässt sich ja streiten! : Die Analyse von "also" in der Diskussion zu Diskurs- und Modalpartikeln

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


This thesis explores the relationship between the position, function and semantics of the German particle "also" (?so?). Traditionally, "also" is classified as a conjunctional adverb because it can fill the position in front of the finite verb in the German clause, the so-called "Vorfeld" (?pre-field?). In this position, it has a meaning similar to that of a conjunction but a distribution similar to that of an adverb. In other positions, however, the classification of "also" is less certain. This holds especially for "also" in the utterance- and sentence initial position typical of discourse particles but also for the use of "also" in the utterance- and sentence medial position typical of modal particles.

The main purpose of this thesis is to investigate whether the position itself has an impact on the actual function of a particle, such as "also". The discussion concentrates on the functions of "also" in utterance-initial and utterance-medial position. The results of the discussion relate to the definitions of the three particle classes mentioned above.

The analysis of a corpus of authentic, spoken German shows that the utterance- and sentence initial occurrences of "also" fulfill discourse organizational and discourse segmenting functions and that they can thus be described as discourse particles. In contrast, utterance- and sentence medial occurrences of "also" have an entirely different function: they signal that their host units convey information that belongs to the so-called common ground, which consists of information and assumptions that the interlocutors consider to be shared information. Thus, the position of "also" within the sentence/utterance has indeed an impact on its interpretation.

The question then arises, in what way the functions of "also" are related to its meaning. It is argued that a core meaning can be detected in all occurrences of "also". It is suggested that the lexical entry of "also" should only contain this invariant, abstract core meaning since the choice of position may provide the hearer with the necessary cues for determining the function of "also" in the actual context of use. The semantic analysis also questions the genuinely semantic method for testing for word class membership of "also" and other particles, which is based on the tacit assumption that the "Vorfeld"-use of the particle will reveal the purest version of its meaning. I suggest that this test is problematic and does not necessarily reveal the most typical ?meaning? of "also".


  • Maria Alm
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Languages and Literature


  • also, spoken language, discourse particles, modal particles, conjuntional adverbs, conversation analysis, construction grammar, monosemy, Linguistics, polysemy, German, Allmän språkvetenskap/Lingvistik, German language and literatur, Tyska (språk och litteratur)
Original languageGerman
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Award date2007 Jun 16
  • Almqvist & Wiksell International
Print ISBNs978-91-22-02173-5
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2007-06-16 Time: 10:15 Place: Sal L403, Lingvisthuset, Språk- och litteraturcentrum, Helgonabacken 12, Lund External reviewer(s) Name: Diewald, Gabriele Title: Prof. Affiliation: Leibniz Universität Hannover ---