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Adversative aber in adverbial clauses in (historical) German

Keywords: adversative connector, adverbial clauses, syntax-prosody interface, German

Abstract

While the literature on adversative aber in German to date has almost exclusively focused on independent clauses, and at best treated its occurrence in adverbial clauses in passing as a variant of postinitial aber in independent clauses (M´etrich and Courdier 1995, Pasch et al. 2003), the current paper focuses on the distribution and interpretation of adversative aber in adverbial clauses. It is shown that aber can have two different scopes, either contrasting two clauses, or two smaller contituents. These scopes are shown to have different prosodic correlates. It is argued that aber occupies the specifier of a functional projection in the upper middle field, and that it interacts with the mapping from syntax to prosody. Some displacements are argued to be interface-driven, to enable constituents to reach or avoid positions where they can be assigned a (contrastive) pitch accent. The diachronic development of adversative aber is shown to interact with the diachronic development of the Wackernagel position for unstressed pronouns.

Published
2020-10-12