The German reportative subjunctive: a relevance-theoretic analysis

Lilley, David (2013) The German reportative subjunctive: a relevance-theoretic analysis. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This study uses Sperber and Wilson’s relevance theory in order to provide an original account of the German verb form known as the reportative subjunctive, which occurs exclusively in indirect-speech contexts. It is argued that the German reportative subjunctive encodes procedural meaning, whose purpose is to reduce the amount of processing effort that a hearer must expend in inferring that an instance of indirect speech is to be understood to conform to a specific prototype of indirect speech. This procedural meaning is able to account for three phenomena which are characteristic of the German reportative subjunctive. Firstly, it accounts for the range of verba dicendi to which the reportative subjunctive may be subordinate. Secondly, it explains the fact that the matrix clause to which an instance of indirect speech needs to be understood to be subordinate does not always have to be explicitly stated. Thirdly, this procedural meaning accounts for the range of attitudes that a reporter may imply contextually towards a reported proposition.
Ultimately, this study aims to improve on existing accounts by identifying a single function for this verb form which is capable of accounting fully for its uses and distribution.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Language and Communication Studies (former - to 2014)
Depositing User: Stacey Armes
Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2014 14:02
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2014 14:02


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