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Added Alternatives in Spoken Interaction: A Corpus Study on German Auch

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Particles such as German auch (‘also’) establish an additive relation between expressions in their scope (added constituent, AC) and context alternatives against the background of shared information (common denominator). In spoken interaction, however, explicit alternatives are not necessarily present and expressions can be construed as alternatives against different variants of a common denominator. It is the aim of the present paper to investigate to what extent the presence of alternatives influences the construction of utterances containing an additive particle. This is particularly relevant for German, where speakers can choose between an unstressed and stressed version of auch. We ask whether properties of the alternatives and their common denominators influence the choice to use stressed or unstressed auch. In a corpus study on spoken language, we classified the versions of auch, the particles AC, the alternatives in the preceding context and their common denominator. The results show that the speaker’s choice is influenced by the relation of the utterance to context alternatives. Specifically, the degree of explicitness of alternatives, the number of alternatives, and the degree of abstractness of the common denominator influence the continuation of the discourse, measured by the preference for one of the two variants of the particle auch
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Article
Added Alternatives in Spoken Interaction: A Corpus Study on
German Auch
Laura Reimer * and Christine Dimroth


Citation: Reimer, Laura, and
Christine Dimroth. 2021. Added
Alternatives in Spoken Interaction:
A Corpus Study on German Auch.
Languages 6: 169. https://doi.org/
10.3390/languages6040169
Academic Editor: Katharina Spalek
Received: 9 July 2021
Accepted: 1 October 2021
Published: 15 October 2021
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Copyright: © 2021 by the authors.
Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
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Attribution (CC BY) license (https://
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4.0/).
Institute of German Studies, University of Münster, 48143 Münster, Germany; christine.dimroth@uni-muenster.de
*Correspondence: laura.reimer@uni-muenster.de
Abstract:
Particles such as German auch (‘also’) establish an additive relation between expressions
in their scope (added constituent, AC) and context alternatives against the background of shared
information (common denominator). In spoken interaction, however, explicit alternatives are not
necessarily present and expressions can be construed as alternatives against different variants of a
common denominator. It is the aim of the present paper to investigate to what extent the presence
of alternatives influences the construction of utterances containing an additive particle. This is
particularly relevant for German, where speakers can choose between an unstressed and stressed
version of auch. We ask whether properties of the alternatives and their common denominators
influence the choice to use stressed or unstressed auch. In a corpus study on spoken language, we
classified the versions of auch, the particles AC, the alternatives in the preceding context and their
common denominator. The results show that the speaker’s choice is influenced by the relation of the
utterance to context alternatives. Specifically, the degree of explicitness of alternatives, the number of
alternatives, and the degree of abstractness of the common denominator influence the continuation
of the discourse, measured by the preference for one of the two variants of the particle auch.
Keywords: alternatives; additive particles; corpus study; discourse; context
1. Introduction
Additive particles such as the English too,also, or German auch (Krifka 1999;Reis and
Rosengren 1997;Dimroth 2004;Sæbø 2004;Sudhoff 2010) establish an additive relation
between expressions in their scope (i.e., the added constituent, AC) and comparable
context expressions (i.e., the alternatives) against the background of shared information (the
common denominator). Alternatives do not exist in the void—they are always alternatives
with respect to something. In textbook examples, the sentence containing the additive
particle and the context sentence typically share an explicit common denominator, that is,
they contain identical material (underlined) and differ only with respect to the particle’s
AC (in brackets) and its context alternative (italic); cf. (1) from Krifka (1999):
1. Peter ate pasta and [Pia] ate pasta, too.
In (1), situations with the descriptive properties ‘ate pasta’ are the common denom-
inator for the AC Pia and the alternative Peter. In spoken interaction, however, explicit
alternatives are not necessarily present and expressions can be construed as alternatives
against different variants of the common denominator. As a consequence, identifying
relevant alternative(s) can be challenging. It is the aim of the present paper to identify
alternatives in spoken interaction, and to investigate to what extent the presence of alter-
natives influences the construction of an utterance containing an additive particle. This is
particularly relevant for German, where speakers can choose between an unstressed (see 2)
and stressed (see 3) version of the additive particle auch.
2. Peter hat Pasta gegessen. Ich frage mich, ob auch [Pia] Pasta gegessen hat.
‘Peter ate pasta. I am wondering whether Pia ate pasta, too.’
Languages 2021,6, 169. https://doi.org/10.3390/languages6040169 https://www.mdpi.com/journal/languages
Languages 2021,6, 169 2 of 19
3. Peter hat Pasta gegessen. Ich frage mich, ob [Pia] AUCH Pasta gegessen hat.
‘Peter ate pasta. I am wondering whether Pia ate pasta, too.’
In this paper, we ask whether properties of the alternatives and their common denom-
inators influence the choice to use stressed or unstressed auch. To that end, we conducted
a corpus study on spoken language where we classified the versions of auch, the parti-
cles’ AC, the alternatives in the preceding context and their common denominator. The
results show that the speaker’s choice is influenced by the relation of the utterance to
context alternatives. Specifically, the degree of explicitness of alternatives, the number
of alternatives, and the degree of abstractness of the common denominator influence the
continuation of the discourse, measured by the choice of the two variants of the particle
auch. The paper is structured as follows: In Section 2, we offer some remarks about the
distinction between unstressed and stressed auch with respect to discourse alternatives and
the common denominator, and about the distinction between the focus particle reading
and another frequent reading of the lexical element auch. We will also present previous
corpus studies on focus particles and focus alternatives. In Section 3, we will turn to the
methodology of our corpus study and Section 4reports on the findings of the corpus study.
Finally, Section 5discusses the results.
2. Background
2.1. Unstressed and Stressed Auch
As stated above, the focus particle auch associates with a constituent (the added con-
stituent, AC), which is related to one or more alternative expression(s)
1
in the context
(Krifka 1999;Reis and Rosengren 1997;Dimroth 2004;Sæbø 2004;Sudhoff 2010). The sen-
tence containing the focus particle auch and the context sentence containing the discourse
alternative share some information, which we label the common denominator. In text book
examples, as the one in (1), the common denominator can be an exact repetition, that is, the
information of the sentence containing the focus particle and the AC is literally repeated
(see Schwarzschild 1999). Corpus data show, however, that there is not always an exact
repetition, as in (1). Sometimes, it is sufficient that a more abstract frame of comparison
can be established in some way. For example, an additive particle can also be used when
the property of the alternative (‘ate pasta’) that was asserted for the alternative is merely
under discussion with respect to the AC as in (4), when it is entailed as in (5), or when
it is somehow reinterpreted as in (6) (see Baumann and Riester 2012 for an overview).
In (6), it can be inferred that Peter might have been hungry, since in order to eat pasta,
one usually has to be hungry (see Prince 1981). In these cases, there are some degrees
of freedom concerning the common denominator, indicating that speakers can establish
additive relations on the basis of abstract frames of comparison.
4. Peter hat Pasta gegessen. Ich frage mich, ob auch [Pia] Pasta gegessen hat.
‘Peter ate pasta. I am wondering whether Pia ate pasta, too’.
5.
Peter hat Pasta gegessen. Ich frage mich, ob
auch
[Pia] italienisches Essen gegessen
hat.
‘Peter ate Pasta. I am wondering whether Pia ate Italian food, too’.
6. Peter hat Pasta gegessen. Ich frage mich, ob auch [Pia] Hunger hatte.
‘Peter ate pasta. I am wondering whether Pia was hungry, too’.
In spoken interaction, there is also flexibility concerning the discourse alternatives, in
that explicit alternatives do not necessarily have to be present in the context (see 7).
7.
Ich muss noch mehr Gläser für die Party besorgen.
Auch
meine alten Mitbewohner
wollen plötzlich kommen.
‘I have to buy more glasses for the party. My old roommates want to come as well.’
In (7), the AC of auch is added to an open set with unspecified members, such as
{other people/my new roommates/my old roommates}. The relevant discourse alternatives
cannot easily be named or counted. Another example is ‘(Hey) X have feelings too(!)’ by
Beaver and Zeevat (2007), where Xcan be e.g., men,fish or we. In this example, too occurs
Languages 2021,6, 169 3 of 19
without a linguistic antecedent. In this case, the assumption that there is some Y(e.g.,
women,people,you) such that Yhas a unique salient contrast with Xand such that Y has
feelings is already in the common ground, or it is accommodated.
Due to the variability of the common denominator and the context alternatives, iden-
tifying the relevant alternative(s) in authentic data can be a challenge for researchers.
The interlocutors, however, do seemingly produce and comprehend the particles and the
corresponding discourse relations in an effortless way.
It is the aim of the present study to investigate whether the number and explicitness
of discourse alternatives influence the construction of utterances containing the German
particle auch. Speakers can choose between two ways of integrating the particle auch
relative to its AC. One way is using unstressed auch in a position preceding the AC (as
in 4–7), and the other way is by using stressed auch in a position following the AC, as
indicated by capital letters in the remainder of this paper (see 8).
8. Peter hat Pasta gegessen. Ich frage mich, ob [Pia] AUCH Pasta gegessen hat.
‘Peter ate pasta. I am wondering whether Pia ate pasta, too.’
We ask, whether there are differences between stressed and unstressed additive auch
with respect to the requirement of explicit contextual alternatives. In many cases, unstressed
auch and stressed AUCH are compatible with similar discourse contexts. This becomes
obvious when examples (2) and (3) are compared. However, there are also cases where
one version is less acceptable or even unacceptable, while the other version is perfectly
acceptable, as shown by (9).
9.
a. Es ist anzunehmen, dass der Anstieg der Arbeitslosenzahlen
auch
[die Bundeskan-
zlerin] beschäftigt.
b. #Es ist anzunehmen, dass der Anstieg der Arbeitslosenzahlen [die Bundeskanz-
lerin] AUCH beschäftigt.2
‘It can be assumed that the increase in unemployment also bothers the chancellor.’
While (9a) is acceptable, (9b) is marked or even unacceptable. A reason could be that
the context does not contain an explicit set of alternatives, but that the chancellor is added
to an unspecified set of alternatives. This example suggests that stressed AUCH is not easily
compatible with an alternative set being vague. According to Reis and Rosengren (1997),
there are systematic (but subtle) meaning differences between unstressed auch and stressed
AUCH. The meaning of unstressed auch, which has new material to its right, corresponds
to the utterance meaning FURTHERMORE, whereas stressed AUCH, which also scopes to
the right and has only given material in its scope, corresponds to the utterance meaning
LIKEWISE. In the case of FURTHERMORE, the AC of auch is simply added to a set of
alternatives, similar to an enumeration (see 10). In the case of LIKEWISE, the AC and the
alternative are both sharing a specific property (e.g., ate pasta, see 11). The best fit for the
FURTHERMORE reading might be a set of several alternatives, while the best fit for the
LIKEWISE reading might be one alternative.
10.
Peter, Paul und John haben Pasta gegessen. Auch Pia hat Pasta gegessen.
‘Peter, Paul and John ate pasta. Pia ate pasta, too.’
11.
Peter hat Pasta gegessen. Genau wie Pia, die hat AUCH Pasta gegessen.
‘Peter ate Pasta. Just like Pia, she ate pasta, too.’
That a restricted set of alternatives is involved in (11) is compatible with the assump-
tion that the AC of stressed AUCH has the information structural status of a (contrastive)
topic (see Krifka 1999;Dimroth 2004;Sæbø 2004). This suggests that the relevant alterna-
tive to Pia must somehow already be under discussion. The additive particle thus marks
that a similar claim is made about two distinct units of topical information. Due to the
“under discussion” constraint, there should thus be less alternatives and they should be
more explicit than is necessary for unstressed auch. We ask whether properties of (a) the
alternatives and (b) their common denominators influence the choice of the speaker to use
one version of the particle auch over the other. This is particularly interesting since focus
Languages 2021,6, 169 4 of 19
alternatives play a vital role in language comprehension (e.g., Gotzner et al. 2013;Gotzner
et al. 2016;Spalek et al. 2014) and language production (e.g., Kaiser 2010).
In German, there is an additional reading of auch that does not have an additive
meaning, namely that of the modal particle3(see 12).
12.
Pia ist nicht mehr hungrig, aber sie hat auch Pasta gegessen.
‘Pia is not hungry anymore, but this is not surprising, since she ate pasta.’
Since we are interested in the focus particle meaning of auch, we have to target the
modal particle meaning as well. The reason is the following: German particles are highly
ambiguous and former studies on German additive particles do not take modal particle
readings into account. We pursue the goal of distinguishing between both meanings in
order to only include those cases that have the intended additive meaning. For that reason,
the following part of the paper gives some background information on the features of
German modal particles, based on the example in (12).
(a) In (12), auch does not associate with a constituent, but scopes over the whole
proposition p(Pia ate pasta). Thus, the lack of an AC is one characteristic of the modal
particle. (b) Since a potential alternative is always related to an AC, the lack of an AC
leads to a lack of an alternative in the context, which is another characteristic of the modal
particle. (c) The function of auch as a modal particle is to signal that there is no contrast
between the context q(Pia is not hungry), and p(Pia ate pasta),or that qis not surprising in
the light of p(see Thurmair 1989;Schmitz et al. 2018). Thus, it should always be possible to
replace the modal particle auch with the paraphrase ‘is not surprising in the light of’. (d)
As a modal particle, auch lacks a clearly additive meaning component. This also becomes
obvious when we try to insert the stressed version of AUCH, which renders the sentence
unacceptable:
13.
# Pia ist nicht mehr hungrig, aber Pasta hat sie AUCH gegessen.
‘Pia is not hungry anymore, but she also ate pasta.’
(e) Besides these semantic factors, a syntactic factor, as shown by (14), helps us to
distinguish both readings. The modal particle cannot occur in preverbal position (e.g.,
Müller 2014). If it is placed in preverbal position, the particle can only be interpreted as the
additive focus particle, which is not appropriate in the context.
14.
# Pia ist nicht mehr hungrig. Auch Pasta hat sie gegessen.
‘Pia is not hungry anymore. She also ate pasta.’
Thus, in (13) and (14), semantic and syntactic information help to classify the occur-
rence of auch as being the unstressed modal particle. However, although examples can be
construed in which it becomes clear that the meaning of the modal particle differs from the
meaning of the additive particle (see 12), we will see in the remainder of this paper that
there are some cases where the two meanings are difficult to tell apart.
2.2. Previous Corpus Studies on Focus Particles and Focus Alternatives
Spalek and Zeldes (2017) conducted a corpus study on focus particles and the involve-
ment of alternatives. Specifically, they investigated whether alternatives are more likely
to be discussed in the subsequent context after the occurrence of the focus particle only.
Based on experimental studies that show that focus particles such as only strongly activate
alternative sets
4
(e.g., Gotzner et al. 2013;Gotzner et al. 2016;Spalek et al. 2014), and
because of their conventional association with focus (Beaver and Clark 2008), the authors
hypothesized that alternatives in naturally occurring data will be referred to more often
later in the discourse if the focused element was preceded by the focus particle only than if it
was not. The authors used the deWaC Web corpus (see Baroni et al. 2009) in order to extract
different nouns (e.g., Obst ‘fruit’) that were tested in a laboratory setting before (=node
words). They searched for pairs of adjacent sentences in which the first sentence contains
the node word, with or without the word nur ‘only’ modifying the node’s phrase. Three
annotators judged where, in the context of the relevant sentence, alternatives to the node
word from the first sentence could be found in the second sentence. As a more objective
Languages 2021,6, 169 5 of 19
test, annotators were asked to supplement the first sentence introspectively by adding ‘as
opposed to [ALTERNATIVE]’ (e.g., ‘oranges’ contrast with ‘apples’ if it is possible to add in
context: ‘John likes oranges’ + ‘as opposed to apples’; Spalek and Zeldes 2017, p. 41). One
hundred randomly selected sentence pairs were used to evaluate the annotators’ ability
to agree in the identification of alternatives. The inter-annotator agreement was 80%. In
addition to the 100 sentence pairs annotated by three annotators, the remaining sentence
pairs were divided into three random subsets for individual annotation by each of the
annotators. The results indicate that the density of alternatives in the nur condition is
significantly higher than for the sentences without nur. Specifically, the presence of nur is
significantly connected to an observed increase of over 77% in the number of alternatives
per sentence pair (Spalek and Zeldes 2017, p. 44). The authors conclude that whatever is
viewed as an alternative to focus information in context is substantially more likely to be
mentioned in the immediate subsequent context. This study thus highlights the importance
of alternatives when it comes to focus particles.
Although the particle nur, investigated in the study by Spalek and Zeldes (2017), and
the particle auch, investigated in the present study, are focus particles, they differ in many
respects. One striking difference is the meaning of the particles in relation to their AC and
the alternatives. While nur includes the AC (this meaning component is presupposed)
and excludes alternatives (this meaning component is asserted), auch includes the AC
(this meaning component is asserted) and also includes the alternatives (this meaning
component is presupposed), as illustrated in Table 1(see König 1991).
Table 1. Meaning contributions by the focus particles also and only.
Pia Also Ate Pasta. Pia Only Ate Pasta.
Asserted (main meaning
contribution) Pia ate pasta
Nothing but pasta was eaten by Pia
Presupposed Pia ate something else Pia ate pasta
Thus, while the reference to alternatives is the main meaning contribution in the case
of the particle nur, it is only presupposed in the case of the particle auch. This leads to
the question whether alternatives might be more prevalent in the case of nur than in the
case of auch. Second, while nur always precedes its AC, there are two versions of auch,
namely the unstressed version preceding its AC and the stressed version following its
AC. Thus, it is an open question whether the involvement of alternatives differs with
respect to unstressed and stressed auch. Furthermore, while Spalek and Zeldes looked at
context sentences following the target sentence that comprised the particle nur, we looked
at context sentences preceding the target sentence. The reason is that, compared to nur,
auch usually follows its alternatives.
A further difference between the corpus study by Spalek and Zeldes and the present
corpus study is that Spalek and Zeldes looked at pairs of adjacent sentences, leaving the
study of larger discourse contexts as a possible point for future research. In contrast, we did
not restrict our analysis to adjacent sentence pairs but looked at large discourse contexts.
We ask whether properties of (a) the alternatives and (b) their common denominators
influence the choice of the speaker to use one version of the particle auch over the other.
To address this question, we studied spoken language data, where we analyzed sentences
containing the German additive particle auch. We (a) classified the particle as being
stressed, or unstressed, (b) identified the AC of the particle, (c) searched for alternatives in
the preceding context, and (d) tried to identify a common denominator, that is, a feature
that is shared by the AC of the particle and the context alternatives. For cases where we
were able to identify (a)–(d), we hypothesized that stressed and unstressed auch differ with
respect to the involvement of alternatives, in that the set of alternatives should be more
restricted and more explicit in the case of stressed AUCH than in the case of unstressed auch.
We did not expect stressed and unstressed auch to differ with respect to the variability of
the common denominator. Besides sentences for which we were able to classify (a)–(d), we
Languages 2021,6, 169 6 of 19
predicted to encounter a notable number of cases that are not classifiable. The results of the
corpus study will provide insights into the role of added alternatives in the construction of
utterances containing the German particle auch.
3. Materials and Methods
For the corpus study, we searched the German data base of spoken language (Daten-
bank für gesprochenes Deutsch [DGD], FOLK corpus)—a corpus management system in
the area of spoken corpora, hosted by the Leibnitz Institute for the German Language
(IDS). The FOLK corpus consists of private, institutional and public communication and
of communication games. We selected two recordings of spoken language together with
the respective transcripts: a coffee party with four speakers (FOLK_E_00201) and an oral
examination with three speakers (FOLK_E_00056) (corpus search completed by the first
author in May 2019). The recording of the oral examination had a duration of 33 min and
57 s, and that of the coffee party of 1 h, 37 min and 56 s. In order to have recordings with a
similar duration, we only analyzed the first half of the coffee party (46 min and 8 s).
The search for occurrences of auch and the coding of the variables was done manually.
We coded several variables, of which we will only report those that are of interest for the
purpose of the present study. These variables are PARTICLE (stressed/unstressed), AC
of the particle, ALTERNATIVES (explicit, reconstructable, none), NUMBER of alternatives,
and DEGREE OF FREEDOM, that is, whether the common denominator of the AC and the
alternative is identical, or whether they are variants of a more abstract frame of comparison
(no degree of freedom/degree of freedom). We used several types of information in order
to code the variables mentioned above.
3.1. Particle (Stressed/Unstressed) and Its AC
Based on the audio recordings we took the stress pattern into account in order to decide
whether the particle auch was stressed or unstressed. We analyzed the whole transcripts
and the entire interaction preceding the relevant occurrence of auch was considered to be
its context. This extensive context helped us to annotate the AC of the particle. This is
important, since a sentence can be ambiguous with respect to the constituent the particle
associates with. In our key example ‘Pia hat
auch
Pasta gegessen’ (Pia ate pasta, too), for
instance, auch can be stressed or unstressed. If the particle is stressed, only Pia can function
as its AC, since stressed AUCH usually follows its AC (see Sudhoff 2010 for other patterns)
5
.
If auch is unstressed, however, there are three possible ACs, as shown in (15). First, the
AC can be [Pasta]. Second, the AC can be [gegessen]. And third, the AC can be [Pasta
gegessen]. Intonation (indicated by capital letters) can help us to pick out [gegessen] in
(15b), since this reading is signaled by a focus accent on the second syllable of gegessen.
However, intonation is not the main cue to help us to distinguish between the possible
ACs [Pasta] and [Pasta gegessen] in (15a) and (15c), since both are related to a pitch accent
on the first syllable of Pasta (however, see Bauman et al. 2007 for tonal and articulatory
marking of broad and narrow focus in German). In these examples, the presence of a
context can help us to distinguish between the two ACs.
15.
a. Pia hat Pizza gegessen. Pia hat auch [PASta] gegessen.
‘Pia ate pizza. Pia ate pasta, too.’
b. Pia hat Pasta gekocht. Pia hat auch Pasta [geGESsen].
‘Pia cooked pasta. Pia also ate pasta.’
c. Pia hat ein Glas Rotwein getrunken. Pia hat auch [PASta gegessen].
‘Pia drank a glass of red wine. Pia also ate pasta.’
3.2. Alternatives
For detecting the added alternatives in the context, we used the test by Spalek and
Zeldes (see above) and adapted it to the meaning of the focus particle auch: If it was
possible to supplement the target sentence with ‘in addition to (German: zusätzlich zu)
[ALTERNATIVE]’ (e.g., ‘Pia ate pasta + in addition to [Peter]’), we sought out an alternative.
Languages 2021,6, 169 7 of 19
In the following, we will refer to the target sentence containing the particle and the AC and
the context sentence containing the alternative as sentence pair. Note, however, that since
we have taken the whole discourse context into account, target and context sentences of
one sentence pair are not necessarily adjacent.
There were three categories related to the presence/absence of alternatives. If an
alternative was present in the context, we classified it as explicit alternative (see 16a). If an
alternative was not present but inferable from the context or from world knowledge, we
classified it as reconstructable alternative (see 16b). If there was no alternative present or
inferable, we classified it as no alternative (see 16c; sentences 16 and 17 are taken from the
FOLK corpus). In the following examples, the AC of the particle is in square brackets.
16.
a. phraseologismen (...) werden ähm fest äh gespeichert im im k gehirn und
auch
[reproduziert].
‘Idioms are fixedly stored in the brain and are also (fixedly) reproduced.’
b. (bei der modifikation) verändert sich auch [die bedeutung].
‘In the course of modification the meaning is changing too.’
c. was vor fünfhundert jahren jemand an phraseologismus gebildet hat das äh betrifft
ja oder das charakterisiert mich als modernen sprecher des deutschen doch nicht
mehr also muss man da auch [vorsichtig] sein
‘what was built as an idiom five hundred years ago no longer characterizes me as a
modern speaker of German, so we have to be careful with respect to that.’
In (16a), the AC of auch is [reproduziert] (‘reproduced’) and the alternative is fest
gespeichert im Gehirn (‘fixedly stored in the brain’). In (16b), the AC of auch is [die Bedeutung]
(‘the meaning’). There is no explicit alternative present, but based on the specific knowledge
that the form of an expression is changed in the course of a modification, we are able to
reconstruct that the speaker might have had die Form (‘the form’) as a possible alternative
in mind. Thus, it is possible to accommodate the presupposition of auch, that there is
something else that is changed, besides the meaning of an idiom. In (16c), however, it is
not possible to reconstruct an alternative, since it is not clear whether an alternative would
be the negation ‘not careful’, or whether it would be a focus alternative to ‘careful’.
In (16), all cases of auch are unstressed. The examples in (17) illustrate cases of explicitly
mentioned alternatives (17a), reconstructable alternatives (17b) and no alternatives (17c) in
the case of stressed AUCH.
17.
a. was alles dazugerechnet wird ähm das sind verben komplexe verben morpholo-
gisch und syntaktisch komplex weil sie morphologisch syntaktisch trennbar sind von
ihrem erstteil und äh dieser erstteil äh sorgt für seman semantische und syntaktische
veränderung an dem verb und ähm das sind aber all das schließt schon als erstes
die präfixverben aus denn [die präfixverben] haben zwar
AUCH
einen erstteil der ist
aber nicht trennbar.
‘Complex verbs belong to this category, verbs that are morphologically and syntactic-
ally complex because they are morphologically and syntactically separable from the
first part. Further, this first part is the reason for semantic and syntactic changes of the
verb. This excludes prefix verbs, since prefix verbs have a first part as well, however,
it is not separable.’
b. aber [wenn wi mit der übertragenen bedeutung operieren] dann fallen
AUCH
wie-der ganz viele weg
‘When we use the figurative meaning as an analyzing tool, we also have to exclude
several other things.’
c. und ich hab in anbetracht der prüfung gesagt mein gott ich bin so aufgeregt und
sie hat zu mir gesagt na aber [der] hilft dir jetz AUCH nich
‘and thinking of the exam I said god, I am so nervous, and she said that he cannot
help me either.’
In (17a), the AC of AUCH is [die Präfixverben] (‘the prefix verbs’) and the alternative
is komplexe Verben (‘complex verbs’). In (17b), the AC of AUCH is [wenn wir mit der
Languages 2021,6, 169 8 of 19
übertragenen bedeutung operieren] (‘if we use the figurative meaning as an analyzing
tool’). There is no explicit alternative to the figurative meaning available in the context, but
one can imagine that there are other analyzing tools that can be used. Finally, in (17c), the
AC of AUCH is [der] (he), which refers to God. There are no other persons or characters
mentioned in the context and one cannot think of another relevant person or character that
could be added to God in this example.
3.3. Number of Alternatives
In the case of explicitly mentioned alternatives, we counted the number of alternatives
in the context. In (16a) and (17a), there was one alternative in the context. The utterance
in (18) is an example for two alternatives in the context, with geographischer (‘geographic’)
and soziolektaler (‘sociolectal’) as alternatives to individueller (‘individual’). The example
contains unstressed auch.
18.
die aus geographischer aus soziolektaler oder aus äh ja
auch
individueller sicht ähm
verschieden sein können
‘which can be different from a geographic point of view, from a sociolectal point of
view and also from an individual point of view.’
Example (19) is an example for two alternatives in the context, with the speakers GB
and TH as alternatives to the speaker SB. The example is an example for stressed AUCH
(we ignore the other occurrences of auch here).
19.
TH: da warn wir kinder aber auch noch etwas anders mama
‘we as children were also different.’
GB: ja ihr wart auch nich so kritisch
‘yes, and you were not so critical’
TH: und die lehrer auch
‘and neither were the teachers’
SB: glaub [ich] AUCH hm hm
‘I think so too.’
Finally, there is one example for three alternatives in the context. This example
contains the unstressed particle auch. The AC of auch is not realized, but an AC of the sort
gegangen (‘to leave/to go away’) can be reconstructed. In the context, the alternatives zu
spät kommen (‘to be late’), nicht vorbereitet sein (‘to not be prepared’), and keine disziplin in die
klasse bringen (‘to not discipline the class’) are alternatives to ‘to go away’.
20.
dass da eine referentin war die jeden tach fast zu spät kam und sich nicht vorbereitet
hatte und dann auch überhaupt keine disziplin in die klasse brachte und die is nachher
auch (.) und die hat hat ihr referendariat gar nicht fertig gekricht
‘a referent who was late nearly every day, who did not prepare and who did not
discipline the class and who also was
. . .
and who did not finish her teacher training’
There were occurrences of unstressed auch, where unstressed auch was related to a
large number of alternatives, but where it was not possible to count the exact number of
these alternatives. In (21), the term ganz viele (‘many’) is a vague alternative to ‘collocations’,
which is not countable.
21.
aber wenn wir mit der übertragenen bedeutung operieren dann fallen auch wieder
ganz viele weg ähm weil wir ja dann au fallen auch [die kollokationen] weg
‘When we use the figurative meaning as an analyzing tool, we have to exclude several
other things as well. We also have to exclude the collocations.’
3.4. Degree of Freedom
Based on the annotation of the AC and the alternative, we were able to classify
whether the common denominator was repeated from the context or whether there was
some degree of freedom with respect to the frame of comparison. For this comparison, we
looked at the target and context sentences minus the particle, the AC and the alternatives.
If the alternative-less context structure and the particle-less and AC-less target structure
Languages 2021,6, 169 9 of 19
were identical, we annotated that there is no DEGREE OF FREEDOM. If the two structures
differed, we coded that there is a DEGREE O F FREED OM. In example (15a), repeated in
(22a), for instance, the common denominator of the target sentence is literally repeated
from the context. When the alternative in the context and the particle and the AC in the
target sentence are deleted, the rest of the sentence is identical. This is different in (22b).
Although the meaning is similar and the alternative and the AC are the same as in (22a),
the remnant sentences are not identical. Both are subsumed under a more abstract frame of
comparison and we are thus dealing with some (lexical) degree of freedom regarding the
words reinschaufeln (to shovel) and essen (to eat).
22.
a. Pia hat Pizza gegessen. Pia hat auch [Pasta] gegessen.
‘Pia ate pizza. Pia ate pasta, too.’
b. Pia hat Pizza gegessen. Pia hat sich auch [Pasta] reingeschaufelt.
‘Pia ate pizza. Pia also shoveled pasta into her mouth, too.’
Note that the specification whether there is some degree of freedom or not was only
possible for sentences with explicitly mentioned alternatives. The following examples are
cases of unstressed auch without (23) and with some degree of freedom (24), and cases
of stressed AUCH without (25) and with some degree of freedom (26). The cases with an
identical common denominator are mostly elliptical structures.
23.
und da ham sie ja sehr viel äh notiert ähm und
auch
[einiges an literatur angegeben]
‘you wrote down a lot and you also cited a lot’
24. aus welchen wortarten sie sich speisen das sind ähm vor allen dingen also die produk-
tivsten sind äh präpositionen und adverbien. (...) es können s können
auch
vereinzelt
[adjektive und substantive] dazu kommen
‘which word classes they are composed of are mainly, well the most productive ones
are prepositions and adverbs, but occasionally they can be complemented by adjec-
tives and nouns
25.
das stimmt denk ich auch zumind also zumindest was bestimmte denotate an geht
bestimmte (.) zum beispiel [die unikalen komponenten] eben AUCH
‘I think that this is true, at least with respect to specific meanings, for instance, with
respect to the unique components’
26.
also f ähm für sie palm sind ähm nur phraseologismen die nich satzwertig sind ähm
tatsächlich auch phraseologismen (...) sprichwörter und geflügelte wörter fallen weg
(...) genau [was] palm
AUCH
ausschließt is die tatsache dass ein phraseologismus
nur aus synsemantika besteht
‘for Palm idioms are only idioms if they do not have the status of a sentence, proverbs
and dictums are dropped, what is also excluded by Palm is the fact that an idiom is
only comprised of function words’
In (23), sehr viel notiert (‘write down a lot’) is the alternative to einiges an literatur
angegeben (‘cite a lot’) and the common denominator is da ham sie ja x (‘you did x’). In (24),
präpositionen (‘prepositions’) and adverbien (‘adverbs’) are the alternatives to adjektive und
substantive (‘adjectives and nouns’). The remnant structure is different: das sind x (‘that
are x’) and können x dazu kommen (‘can be complemented by x’). In (25), bestimmte denotate
(‘specific meanings’) is the alternative to unikale komponenten (‘unique components’) and the
common denominator is das stimmt was x betrifft (‘that is true with respect to x’). In (26), the
AC is was (‘what’), which refers to die tatsache dass ein phraseologismus nur aus synsemantika
besteht (‘the fact that an idiom is only comprised of function words’). The alternative is
sprichwörter und gefügelte wörter (‘proverbs and dictums’). The remnant structure is again
different (fallen weg (‘be dropped’) and ausschließen (‘exclude’)).
3.5. Data Annotation and Exclusion of Modal Particle Uses
The data annotation was done in two steps. In the first step, both authors coded
the data independently. In the second step, both authors compared and discussed their
annotations. There were three possible outcomes: (a) both annotators agreed in the first
Languages 2021,6, 169 10 of 19
place, (b) both annotators disagreed in the first place but agreed on one annotation after
the discussion, and (c) both annotators disagreed in the first place and did not agree on
one annotation. Altogether, there were 237 annotations. In 179 cases, (76%) the annotators
agreed in the first place, in 34 cases (14%), they disagreed in the first place but then agreed
on one annotation, and in 18 cases (7.5%) the annotators disagreed completely. Six cases
(2.5%) were not classifiable. We conclude that the inter-annotator agreement is 90%, which
is relatively high (see Spalek and Zeldes for an inter-annotator agreement of 80%).
For the remainder of the analysis, we excluded those cases where the annotators did
not agree and those that were not classifiable (total of 24), leaving 213 cases. In one case,
the particle auch was part of a phrase that is kind of idiomatic (die macht ja auch was mit,
word-by-word: she makes PRT P RT something with, ‘she is going through a hard time’) and
was therefore excluded, leaving 212 cases for the final analysis.
Furthermore, since we were interested in the focus particle readings of auch, we ex-
cluded all modal particle uses. It was not always trivial to distinguish the unstressed focus
particle from the unstressed modal particle, since in many cases the meaning differences
are subtle. Furthermore, both meanings are related, which makes it even harder to tell both
meanings apart (see, for instance, Dörre and Trotzke 2019 for a meaning relation in the
case of the German focus and modal particle nur ‘only’). Therefore, we used the following
semantic and syntactic criteria in order to distinguish the unstressed focus particle auch
from its modal counterpart as objectively as possible.
Since modal particles do not associate with a constituent but scope over the whole
proposition, they also lack alternatives. Occurrences without alternatives were further
analysed. If the following additional criteria were met, the particle was counted as modal:
The particle does not have an AC, it is possible to include the paraphrase ‘which is not
surprising in the light of’/’which is not in contrast to’, the unstressed auch cannot by
replaced by stressed AUCH, and the particle cannot occur (together with a potential AC) in
preverbal position. Example (27) illustrates the application of these tests.
27. (Context: The examiner tells the examinee during an oral examination that the answer
the examinee gave was wrong. The examinee replies:) nee ich glaub ich hab mich da
auch verhaspelt.
‘I think I floundered (and this is the reason why I gave a wrong answer).’
In (27), auch is unstressed and it does not have an AC. It neither associated with
verhaspelt (‘floundered’, with the possible alternative of having done something else), nor
with da (‘at that point in time’, with a possible alternative of another point in time during
the examination where the examinee floundered). The pronoun ich (‘I’, with the possible
alternative of someone else having floundered) can also be excluded. Furthermore, it is
possible to include a paraphrase of the modal particle meaning, as shown by (28).
28.
dass ich eine falsche antwort gegeben habe ist nicht überraschend in anbetracht der
tatsache, dass ich mich verhaspelt habe
‘that I gave a wrong answer is not surprising in light of the fact that I floundered’
The sentence becomes infelicitous when the unstressed auch is replaced by stressed
AUCH (see 29), or when the particle together with its potential AC (the following con-
stituent, which is verhaspelt) is placed in the prefield (see 30).
29.
#nee, verhaspelt hab ich mich da AUCH.
30.
#auch verhaspelt habe ich mich da.
The application of these tests led to the classification and exclusion of 22 modal
particles. However, we want to stress that there are still cases where it is not clear whether
we are dealing with the focus particle or the modal particle reading. These are cases where
we have an additive meaning component on the illocutionary level, as in the case of verum
focus (see Höhle 1992 for verum focus and Dimroth 2004 for verum focus in relation to
auch) (indicated by capital letters, see 31).
31. JG: (
. . .
) dann fallen auch wieder ganz viele weg ähm weil wir ja dann au fallen auch
die kollokationen weg
Languages 2021,6, 169 11 of 19
‘In this case we have to exclude several other things as well. We also have to exclude
the collocations.’
AP: das stimmt das stimmt aber die kollokationen zum beispiel STEHN ja
auch
da-
zwischen
‘That is correct, but the collocations ARE an intermediary case.’
All tests point to the modal particle reading. As a modal particle, auch functions
to signal that the fact that collocations have to be excluded is not surprising due to the
observation that they cannot be reliably classified. However, we can also detect an additive
reading. As a focus particle, auch adds the observation that they are an intermediary
case (and therefore that they have to be excluded) to the observation that they should
be excluded. In other words: They should be excluded AND they have to be excluded.
These cases illustrate the strong relation between modal particle readings and focus particle
readings. Furthermore, they illustrate that more tests are necessary in order to distinguish
between both readings.
4. Results
Of the 190 occurrences of the particle auch, the majority of 131 cases was unstressed
(69%) and 59 were stressed (31%). As illustrated in Figure 1, the unstressed auch occurred
significantly more often than stressed AUCH (X2= 27.28, p< 0.001).
Languages 2021, 6, x FOR PEER REVIEW 12 of 20
Figure 1. Distribution of the two versions of the particle auch.
In most of the cases alternatives were explicitly mentioned (58%), followed by
reconstructable and no alternatives (26%, 16% respectively). However, the results show
that unstressed and stressed auch differ with respect to the involvement of alternatives (X2
= 21.35, p < 0.001, see Table 2 and Figure 2). While both variants of auch occurred most
frequently with explicit alternatives (50.4% for unstressed auch, 75% for stressed AUCH),
explicitly mentioned alternatives were more often present in the case of stressed AUCH
compared to unstressed auch. Furthermore, while alternatives not being available were
frequent in the case of unstressed auch (21.4%), this option was very rare for stressed
AUCH (5%).
Table 2. Distribution of the alternatives over the two versions of the particle auch.
Explicit Reconstructable No Alternatives
Unstressed auch 66 (50.4%) 37 (28.2%) 28 (21.4%)
Stressed AUCH 44 (75%) 12 (20%) 3 (5%)
0
50
100
auch_unstressed auch_stressed
Figure 1. Distribution of the two versions of the particle auch.
In most of the cases alternatives were explicitly mentioned (58%), followed by re-
constructable and no alternatives (26%, 16% respectively). However, the results show
that unstressed and stressed auch differ with respect to the involvement of alternatives
(X
2
= 21.35, p< 0.001, see Table 2and Figure 2). While both variants of auch occurred
most frequently with explicit alternatives (50.4% for unstressed auch, 75% for stressed
AUCH), explicitly mentioned alternatives were more often present in the case of stressed
AUCH compared to unstressed auch. Furthermore, while alternatives not being available
were frequent in the case of unstressed auch (21.4%), this option was very rare for stressed
AUCH (5%).
Languages 2021,6, 169 12 of 19
Table 2. Distribution of the alternatives over the two versions of the particle auch.
Explicit Reconstructable No Alternatives
Unstressed auch 66 (50.4%) 37 (28.2%) 28 (21.4%)
Stressed AUCH 44 (75%) 12 (20%) 3 (5%)
Languages 2021, 6, x FOR PEER REVIEW 13 of 20
Figure 2. Distribution of the alternatives over the two versions of the particle auch.
We further analyzed the NUMBER of alternatives present in the context sentence. This
was only possible for sentence pairs with explicitly mentioned alternatives. Of the 110
sentence pairs with explicitly mentioned alternatives, 100 sentence pairs involved one
alternative, nine sentence pairs involved two alternatives and one sentence pair involved
three alternatives (mean 1.1, SD 0.3). In most of the cases, unstressed and stressed auch
occurred with one alternative (86% and 98%, respectively). However, while unstressed
auch also occurred with more than one alternative (14%), this option was observed only
once for stressed AUCH (2%, see Figure 3). In order to see whether unstressed and stressed
auch differ with respect to the number of alternatives, we analyzed the data further by
linear mixed models (R Core Team 2017, package lme4; Bates et al. 2015) with NUMBER OF
ALTERNATIVES as the dependent variable, PARTICLE (unstressed auch/stressed AUCH) as
fixed factor, and ITEM as random effect. There was a significant difference between
unstressed and stressed auch (β = 0.13, SE = 0.06, t = 2.031, p < 0.05). indicating that
unstressed auch occurs significantly more often with several alternatives than stressed
AUCH.
0.00
0.25
0.50
0.75
1.00
auch_unstressed auch_stressed
alternative
explicit
reconstructable
no alternative
Figure 2. Distribution of the alternatives over the two versions of the particle auch.
We further analyzed the NUMBE R of alternatives present in the context sentence.
This was only possible for sentence pairs with explicitly mentioned alternatives. Of the
110 sentence pairs with explicitly mentioned alternatives, 100 sentence pairs involved one
alternative, nine sentence pairs involved two alternatives and one sentence pair involved
three alternatives (mean 1.1, SD 0.3). In most of the cases, unstressed and stressed auch
occurred with one alternative (86% and 98%, respectively). However, while unstressed auch
also occurred with more than one alternative (14%), this option was observed only once for
stressed AUCH (2%, see Figure 3). In order to see whether unstressed and stressed auch
differ with respect to the number of alternatives, we analyzed the data further by linear
mixed models (R Core Team 2017, package lme4; Bates et al. 2015) with NUMBER OF ALTER-
NATIVES as the dependent variable, PARTICLE (unstressed auch/stressed AUCH) as fixed
factor, and ITEM as random effect. There was a significant difference between unstressed
and stressed auch (
β
=
0.13, SE = 0.06, t =
2.031, p< 0.05). indicating that unstressed
auch occurs significantly more often with several alternatives than stressed AUCH.
Languages 2021,6, 169 13 of 19
Languages 2021, 6, x FOR PEER REVIEW 14 of 20
Figure 3. Distribution of the number of alternatives over the two versions of the particle auch.
For the 110 sentence pairs that involved explicitly mentioned alternatives, we looked
at the common denominator of the target sentence and the context sentence. If the
common denominator of the context sentence was repeated in the target sentence, we
coded that there is no degree of freedom, otherwise we coded that there is a degree of
freedom. The majority of the sentence pairs (64 sentence pairs) involved some degree of
freedom (61%), and 41 of the sentence pairs involved the repetition of a common
denominator (39%) (5 sentence pairs were not classifiable). Crucially, unstressed and
stressed auch differ with respect to the degree of freedom (see Table 3). While unstressed
auch equally occurs without (51%) or with (49%) a degree of freedom, stressed AUCH
preferably occurs in sentence pairs involving some degree of freedom (79%), compared to
sentence pairs having a common denominator that is repeated (21%) (X2 = 13.74, p < 0.001,
see Table 3 and Figure 4).
Table 3. Distribution of the degree of freedom over the two versions of the particle auch.
No Degree of Freedom Degree of Freedom
Unstressed auch 32 (51%) 31 (49%)
Stressed AUCH 9 (21%) 33 (79%)
0.00
0.25
0.50
0.75
1.00
auch_unstressed auch_stressed
alternative_number
1 alternative
2 alternatives
3 alternatives
Figure 3. Distribution of the number of alternatives over the two versions of the particle auch.
For the 110 sentence pairs that involved explicitly mentioned alternatives, we looked
at the common denominator of the target sentence and the context sentence. If the common
denominator of the context sentence was repeated in the target sentence, we coded that
there is no degree of freedom, otherwise we coded that there is a degree of freedom. The
majority of the sentence pairs (64 sentence pairs) involved some degree of freedom (61%),
and 41 of the sentence pairs involved the repetition of a common denominator (39%)
(5 sentence pairs were not classifiable). Crucially, unstressed and stressed auch differ with
respect to the degree of freedom (see Table 3). While unstressed auch equally occurs without
(51%) or with (49%) a degree of freedom, stressed AUCH preferably occurs in sentence pairs
involving some degree of freedom (79%), compared to sentence pairs having a common
denominator that is repeated (21%) (X2= 13.74, p< 0.001, see Table 3and Figure 4).
Table 3. Distribution of the degree of freedom over the two versions of the particle auch.
No Degree of Freedom Degree of Freedom
Unstressed auch 32 (51%) 31 (49%)
Stressed AUCH 9 (21%) 33 (79%)
Languages 2021,6, 169 14 of 19
Languages 2021, 6, x FOR PEER REVIEW 15 of 20
Figure 4. Distribution of the degree of freedom over the two versions of the particle auch.
5. Discussion
In this study, we investigated naturally occurring German conversation data
containing the German additive particle auch and its realization as the unstressed or
stressed version of the particle. By looking at the constituent, the particle associates with
(the AC) and the related context alternatives, we asked whether properties of (a) the
context alternatives and (b) their common denominators, that is, the feature that is shared
by the AC of the particle and the context alternatives, influence the choice of the speaker
to use one version of the particle auch over the other. This is particularly interesting since
alternatives play a vital role in language comprehension and production. We conducted
a corpus study on spoken language, where we analyzed 190 occurrences of the German
additive particle auch, based on two different transcripts of spoken language with a high
inter-annotator agreement of 90% (two annotators). First of all, we found that the
unstressed version of auch is significantly more frequent than the stressed version, and
that both versions differ with respect to (a) the involvement of alternatives, and (b) their
common denominator. Regarding the involvement of alternatives, we found that stressed
AUCH is mostly related to explicitly mentioned alternatives, that it often occurs with
reconstructable alternatives and that it rarely occurs with no alternative. Opposed to that,
unstressed auch is more flexible and occurs with all three constellations of alternatives. In
light of the information structural differences between unstressed and stressed auch, this
is exactly what we expected. Since the AC of stressed AUCH has the information structural
status of a (contrastive) topic (see Krifka 1999; Dimroth 2004; Sæbø 2004), we expected
that the relevant alternatives to the AC must somehow be under discussion, or, in other
words, must be explicitly mentioned, or at least be reconstructable. Furthermore, stressed
AUCH, with its utterance meaning LIKEWISE (see Reis and Rosengren 1997) marks that a
similar claim is made about two distinct units of topical information. Due to the “under
discussion” constraint, we expected that there are less alternatives than in the case of
0.00
0.25
0.50
0.75
1.00
auch_unstressed auch_stressed
degree_of_freedom
no degree of freedom
degree of freedom
Figure 4. Distribution of the degree of freedom over the two versions of the particle auch.
5. Discussion
In this study, we investigated naturally occurring German conversation data con-
taining the German additive particle auch and its realization as the unstressed or stressed
version of the particle. By looking at the constituent, the particle associates with (the
AC) and the related context alternatives, we asked whether properties of (a) the context
alternatives and (b) their common denominators, that is, the feature that is shared by the
AC of the particle and the context alternatives, influence the choice of the speaker to use one
version of the particle auch over the other. This is particularly interesting since alternatives
play a vital role in language comprehension and production. We conducted a corpus study
on spoken language, where we analyzed 190 occurrences of the German additive particle
auch, based on two different transcripts of spoken language with a high inter-annotator
agreement of 90% (two annotators). First of all, we found that the unstressed version of
auch is significantly more frequent than the stressed version, and that both versions differ
with respect to (a) the involvement of alternatives, and (b) their common denominator. Re-
garding the involvement of alternatives, we found that stressed AUCH is mostly related to
explicitly mentioned alternatives, that it often occurs with reconstructable alternatives and
that it rarely occurs with no alternative. Opposed to that, unstressed auch is more flexible
and occurs with all three constellations of alternatives. In light of the information structural
differences between unstressed and stressed auch, this is exactly what we expected. Since
the AC of stressed AUCH has the information structural status of a (contrastive) topic (see
Krifka 1999;Dimroth 2004;Sæbø 2004), we expected that the relevant alternatives to the
AC must somehow be under discussion, or, in other words, must be explicitly mentioned,
or at least be reconstructable. Furthermore, stressed AUCH, with its utterance meaning
LIKEWISE (see Reis and Rosengren 1997) marks that a similar claim is made about two
distinct units of topical information. Due to the “under discussion” constraint, we expected
that there are less alternatives than in the case of unstressed auch, where the AC has the
information structural status of a focus. This was borne out by the results of the corpus
Languages 2021,6, 169 15 of 19
study, in that the number of explicitly mentioned alternatives was significantly smaller
in the case of stressed AUCH than in the case of unstressed auch. Thus, stressed AUCH is
related to a more restricted set of alternatives, that is explicitly mentioned, while unstressed
auch is more flexible in this respect. Note that unstressed auch is highly ambiguous, since it
can lead to a focus particle or a modal particle reading. Both meanings are often hard to
tear apart. By using objective semantic and syntactic tests, we sorted out modal particle
readings as good as possible in order to provide data that are based on focus particle read-
ings alone. Nevertheless, future studies should go into more detail, since more objective
tests are needed to distinguish between the different readings. We are convinced that future
corpus linguistic investigations on particles would benefit from such tests.
Regarding the common denominator, that is, the feature that is shared by the AC of
the particle and the context alternatives, we did not expect a difference between stressed
and unstressed auch. However, the results show that there is a difference, in that stressed
AUCH occurs with some degree of freedom in most of the cases, while there is no such
preference for unstressed auch. Although this result is surprising and such a difference has
not been observed before, the behavior of unstressed auch matches the results reported
above regarding the alternatives, in that unstressed auch is again undetermined. In fact, it
is at chance whether unstressed auch occurs with some degree of freedom or not, while it is
rather determined that stressed AUCH occurs with a degree of freedom. Therefore, stressed
AUCH is less strict in the sense that the remnant structure of the alternative sentence
and the target sentence comprising AUCH does not have to be identical. An anonymous
reviewer pointed out that we might be dealing with some sort of a trade-off effect: Stressed
AUCH is stricter with respect to the alternatives, so it can be less strict with respect to the
common denominator. No such relation can be observed for unstressed auch.
That stressed AUCH is chosen when there is some degree of freedom, that is, when
there is a more abstract frame of comparison instead of a repetition of a common denom-
inator, can be explained by its utterance meaning LIKEW ISE. Its function is to mark two
utterances as being similar, that, at least in some cases, would not have been interpreted as
similar without the additive particle. In (32), for instance, which is part of a conversation of
the coffee party, KH ascribes Denise B. and Felicitas Z. the same property. He puts ‘people
at an advanced age’ on a level with ‘pensioners’, merely by using stressed AUCH. Here,
the rest of the target sentence (is a pensioner) is mapped on the alternative of the context
sentence (Denise B./people at an advanced age). Thus, ‘people at an advanced age’ and
‘pensioner’ are interpreted as coreferential (see Baumann and Riester 2012).
32.
(Context: TH and KH (besides GB und SB) talk about Denise B. and her medical
treatment in a clinic)
TH: ham solche leute in so_m hohen alter gar keine möglichkeit mehr in eine normale
rehaklinik zu kommen
‘Those people at such an advanced age do not have the possibility anymore to be
treated in a normal rehabilitation clinic’
KH: [...] totaler unfug ist das [...] guck felicitas z. an, [die] is doch
AUCH
rentnerin
[...] und [...] die sind eh alle in der bergedorf klinik in laufenburg gewesen ne ortho-
pädische fachklinik
‘This is nonsense. Look at Felicitas Z., she is a pensioner, too. And they have been
treated in the Bergedorf clinic in Laufenburg, which is an orthopedic specialist clinic.’
Another example in (33) is from the oral examination. Right at the beginning of the
examination, the examinee (AP) asks whether she is allowed to use her position paper
during the examination and the examiners (JG and SA) reply positively that she is allowed
to use it. Furthermore, one examiner (SA) states that she herself would not be able to recall
the examples of this very detailed position paper, either. However, the examinee does
not claim that she is not able to recall the examples—rather, the examiner infers that the
examinee is not able to recall the examples and attributes this fact to the examinee by using
the particle AUCH.
Languages 2021,6, 169 16 of 19
33.
AP: hab ich das recht auch mein thesenpapier zu nutzen
‘Am I allowed to use my position paper?’
JG: natürlich
‘Of course you are.’
SA: vor allen dingen wenn_s um beispiele geht [...] sie haben ja n sehr ausführliches
thesenpapier
‘Especially with respect to your examples. You have a very detailed position paper.’
JG: [ . . . ] sie ham ja sehr viel aufgeschrieben
‘You wrote a lot.’
SA: ja die beispiele sind und das dürfen sie natürlich also s können [wir]
AUCH
nichso aus der lamäng
‘Yes, the examples are ... and of course you are allowed to, we are not able to do this
without help, too.’
In both cases, we can clearly find the AC of the particle (Felicitas Z. in (32) and the
pronoun wir (‘we’) referring to the examiners in (33)) and we find explicitly mentioned
alternatives in the context (Denise B./people at an advanced age in (32) and the examinee in
(33)). However, what is claimed about the alternative and the AC actually differs between
the context and the target sentence, but is marked as being similar by means of stressed
AUCH. Future studies should further examine these cases in order to investigate the exact
relation between the context sentence and the sentence comprising the particle.
In our corpus study, we observed a higher inter-annotator agreement (90%) than
reported for the study of Spalek and Zeldes (2017) (80%). A reason for the difference
might be that we took the whole discourse context into account, which is effective, at
least in the case of the particle auch. We observed a lot of cases where the alternatives
were preceding the particle and its AC by several sentences, and we observed a lot of
cases where alternatives were not present at all. Based on the semantic properties of
the focus particles auch, which was investigated in the present study, and nur, which
was investigated by Spalek and Zeldes, we assumed a different relation of the respective
particles to alternatives (see Table 1). While the exclusion of alternatives is the main
meaning contribution in the case of the particle nur, an additive relation to alternatives
is only presupposed in the case of the particle auch. Thus, we expected to find some
flexibility of auch with respect to the relation of the particle to its alternatives, which was
borne out of the results of the present study. Furthermore, although studies show that an
unsatisfied presupposition (i.e., an absence of an alternative and a common denominator
in the context) leads to a slower processing of sentences containing the additive particle
auch (see Schwarz 2007), it is nevertheless possible to accommodate the presupposition.
Different types of presupposition triggers differ in their ease and their possibility of being
accommodated, with, for instance, the definite article being easier to accommodate than
the additive particle auch (e.g., Kripke 2009). For that reason, auch has been classified as
being hard to accommodate. However, an accommodation is possible in the case of auch,
especially if the context is plausible (see Singh et al. 2016), and if the presupposition makes
the text more coherent (see Grubic and Wierzba 2019). The relatively high number of cases
where auch occurs without a context alternative, or with alternatives that are not present
but that can be reconstructed, suggests that it is generally possible to accommodate the
presupposition of auch (see also example 6a). Speakers never signaled a misunderstanding
in relation to the particle. The cases where auch is used without alternatives are cases
where the interpretation is rather vague. This leads to the impression that the use of auch
without discourse alternatives is kind of a strategy to pretend that there are alternatives, or
to connect with previous parts of the utterance. The first strategy has been found in the
setting of the oral examination (see 34), and the second strategy in the coffee party (see
35). Future studies should examine cases of unstressed auch without discourse alternatives
more closely.
34.
ähm es ist ja auch so dass (...)
‘(Besides other things I know,) it is the case that (...)’
Languages 2021,6, 169 17 of 19
35.
GB: so im kleinen wird das ja jetzt auch praktiziert durch den familientisch ne, da
warn
‘On a small scale it is practiced by the family table’
KH: glaub das aber auch nur ne showveranstaltung. also davon halt ich überhauptnix.
das is aus meiner sicht
‘I believe that this is merely a show event. I don’t think much of it. From my
perspective . . .
GB: es is aber so. ich denk auch an [lisa] für lisa ist das ja mal ne abwechslung
‘But that’s how it is. I think of Lisa, for Lisa it is a change.’
The results of our corpus study provide insights into the involvement of added
alternatives. The study reveals that alternatives strongly influence the continuation of
the discourse, in a way that the choice of stressed or unstressed auch depends on the
presence/absence of alternatives in the larger discourse context and on the size of the
alternative set. This is line with previous studies that emphasize the vital role of alternatives
in the course of language comprehension and production. At the same time, our study
opens the path for future research on cases with no explicit alternatives, with varying
degrees of freedom concerning the shared information between the context sentence and
the sentence hosting the particle, and on the distinction between different readings of these
very frequent and highly ambiguous elements.
6. Conclusions
The goal of this corpus study was to reveal to what extent the presence of alternatives
influences the continuation of the discourse, measured by the choice of the two variants
of the German particle auch. The results, based on the annotation of 190 natural language
occurrences of the particle auch, reveal an important role of context alternatives on the
continuation of the discourse, and therefore on the utterance planning of the speakers. In
most of the cases, speakers of German can choose between an unstressed and a stressed
version of auch, and the presence or absence of alternatives, the size of the alternative set
and the similarity between the sentence containing the particle and the context sentence
containing the alternative seem to influence the choice of the speakers.
Author Contributions:
Conceptualization, L.R. and C.D.; methodology, formal analysis, and investi-
gation, L.R. and C.D.; writing—original draft preparation, L.R.; writing—review and editing, L.R.
and C.D. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.
Funding: This research received no external funding.
Data Availability Statement:
The data presented in this study are available on request from the
corresponding author.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Notes
1
Note that there is a controversy with respect to the question whether the context must provide an alternative proposition (e.g.,
Peter ate Pasta; see Beaver and Zeevat 2007;Chemla and Schlenker 2012) or whether an alternative to the focused constituent is
sufficient (e.g., Peter; see Heim 1992;Geurts and Sandt 2004). Grubic and Wierzba (2019) argue that the first account is too strong,
and for the purpose of the present study we do not assume that the alternative has to be a proposition.
2
One anonymous reviewer pointed out that the unacceptability seems to be partly due to the word order of the example, and that
the acceptability of the sentence increases when the word order is changed, as in ‘Es ist anzunehmen, dass die Bundeskanzlerin der
Anstieg der Arbeitslosenzahlen
AUCH
beschäftigt.’ According to our intuition, however, the sentence with the unstressed version of
auch is still more acceptable.
3
The relation between the meaning of modal particles and the meaning of their counterparts (mostly focus particles and adverbs)
can be a polysemous one with a semantic relation, or a homonymous one with two different lexical entries. We assume that there
is a polysemous relation between auch as a focus particle and auch as a modal particle (for an analysis in terms of polysemy, see
Dörre and Trotzke 2019 for the German focus and modal particle nur, and Meibauer 1994 for the German modal particle and
adverb schon).
Languages 2021,6, 169 18 of 19
4
Note that besides focus particles, focus (e.g., contrastive focus) can activate a set of focus alternatives (Braun and Tagliapietra
2010).
5
Note that sentences containing stressed AUCH can also be ambiguous with respect to a possible AC when more than one potential
ACs precede the particle.
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Nehmen wir an, daß sich der Sprecher A an den Sprecher B wendet, indem er den Satz (la) äußert.