Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft Leibniz-Gemeinschaft

Anaphoric Potential of Incorporated Nominals and Weak Definites (ANAPIN)

The project investigates the semantics of different forms of nominal incorporation (especially pseudo- or syntactic incorporation) and of weak definites. Of central interest is the anaphoric potential of such expressions, i.e. the question of whether speakers can refer to the incorporated nominals or the weak definites in the following discourse. Relevant examples in German are:

(a) Fritz hat Zeitung / eine Zeitung gelesen. Er fand sie interessant.
(b) Fritz ist ins Kino / in das Kino gegangen. Es befindet sich im Stadtzentrum.

The anaphoric relationship is easily established with regular indefinites ("eine Zeitung") and definites ("in das Kino"), but also with incorporated nominals ("Zeitung") and weak definites ("ins Kino").

The project also investigates Persian from this perspective. Persian differs systematically from German: There is no definiteness marker, but there are multiple indefiniteness markers; and there is a differential object marker, the absence of which can be understood as a syntactic incorporation of the object. The hypothesis is pursued that bare nominals in object position are always definite: strongly definite if the object marker is present, weakly definite otherwise.

The project aims to systematically and experimentally determine the conditions for anaphoric references in German and Persian. It is expected that this will provide insights into the possibilities of syntactically combining nominal arguments and verbal predicates, their semantic interpretation and the associated discourse effects. The aim is to gain a better understanding of the relationship between syntactic structure and semantic interpretation, taking into account not only clause-internal phenomena, but also intersentential discourse properties.

Project events