Anaphoric Potential of Incorporated Nominals and Weak Definites (ANAPIN)

The project investigates the semantics of various forms of nominal incorporation (in particular, pseudo incorporation, i.e. syntactic incorporation) and of weak definites. We will have a close look at the anaphoric potential of such expressions, i.e. the questio, whether speakers can take up incorporated nominals or weak definites in the subsequent discourse. This relates to examples like the following:

(a) John went berry-picking / picked some berries. They were tasty.

(b) John went to hospital / went to the hospital. It is located in the city center.

Anaphoric reference is easy with regular indefinites ("some berries") and definites ("the hospital"), but more difficult with incorporated nominals ("berry-picking") and weak definites ("hospital").

The project also investigates Persian, which differs from German in systematic ways. There is no definiteness marker in Persian, but there are various indefiniteness markers. Furthermore, there is differential object marking, the lack of which can be understood as syntactic incorporation of the object. We work under the hypothesis that bare nominals in object position are always definite: strongly definite with the object marker, and weakliy definite without.

The project will investigate the conditions for anaphoric uptake systematically for German and Persian. By this, we expect to find crucial evidence for the ways of syntactic combination of nominal arguments with verbal predicates, about their syntactic interpretation, and about the concomitant discourse effects. Our goal is a better understanding of the interface of syntactic structure and semantic interpretation, not only in terms of sentece-internal phenomena but also beyond, in relation to discourse.




Funding period

01.10.2016 - 30.09.2019

Principal Investigators

Dr. Werner Frey & Prof. Dr. Manfred Krifka