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Rethinking Verb Second$
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Rebecca Woods and Sam Wolfe

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198844303

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198844303.001.0001

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The grammatical basis of Verb Second

The grammatical basis of Verb Second

The case of German

(p.177) 8 The grammatical basis of Verb Second
Rethinking Verb Second

Horst Lohnstein

Oxford University Press

The root and embedded Verb Second constructions in German are investigated and an analysis is proposed which employs properties of the inflectional system to derive finiteness fronting. In particular, the fronting of finiteness through verb movement is traced back to the deictic variables of the inflectional categories tense (time of speech) and verbal mood (situation of speech) in the case of finite clauses. Finiteness fronts in order for these semantic variables to get access to the respective components of the discourse situation. In the case of imperatives—not featuring tense and mood—the agr variable causes verb fronting. Because formal subjects cannot be licensed in imperatives, the agr variable for [person: 2, number: a plural] does not get a semantic value. Fronting of the verb allows binding the discourse component addressee to this variable. Being bound to discourse components, the respective propositional objects are anchored on the discourse table. Embedded Verb Second constructions are derived by the same principles and their interaction with the specific properties of the higher-ordered structural configurations.

Keywords:   inflectional category, verbal mood, Verb Second, deictic variable, discourse

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