LINGUIST List 32.3559

Tue Nov 09 2021

Confs: General Linguistics/Italy

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <>

Date: 08-Nov-2021
From: Federica Cognola <>
Subject: Ways of Expressing Modality. German Modal Particles from a Comparative Perspective
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Ways of Expressing Modality. German Modal Particles from a Comparative Perspective

Date: 15-Nov-2021 - 16-Nov-2021
Location: Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Italy
Contact: Federica Cognola
Contact Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics

Meeting Description:

Modal particles (henceforth: MPs) are small words expressing the speaker’s attitude towards the proposition in a similar fashion to epistemic usages of modal verbs and speaker’s oriented adverb (Weydt 1963, Thurmair 1989). German exhibits a wide array of modal particles, such as auch, bloß, denn, doch, eben, ja, mal and schon, which are all special usages of words belonging to other lexical or functional classes. When used as modal particles they have a presuppositional meaning and share the following properties: (i) They cannot be stressed, (ii) coordinated, (iii) focused, (iv) inflected, (v) cannot appear in isolation (vi) nor in non-root embedded clauses and (vi) are confined to a sentence-internal position (Mittelfeld).

MPs have long been considered to be a typical German phenomenon, which is absent in other languages, and whose translation is thus particularly problematic or even impossible (see discussion in Müller 2014). As a consequence, the identification of the class of MPs has mostly been confined to German linguistics: therefore, comparative work is not particularly extensive and has mostly focused on written data (see Waltereit 2001 on German-French/Italian, Masi 1996 on a German-Italian literary corpus and Cognola/Moroni in press), or on elicited data from a single variety and on single MPs (see Coniglio 2009, Cardinaletti 2011; Hinterhölzl/Munaro 2015, Cognola/Schifano 2018a,b). Moreover, the scarcity of comparative work in the area of MPs is reflected by the fact that, despite their centrality in the language, MPs have received only a partial treatment in most materials for the teaching of German as a foreign language based on constructed sentences (see Pittner 2010).

The Conference aims at addressing these two fundamental gaps, namely the reduced number of cross-linguistic investigations and of teaching materials on MPs, and will try to provide an answer to the following research questions:

- to what extent are MPs a German phenomenon? Are MPs found in other languages?
- why do some languages, like German, heavily rely on MPs, whereas others do not?
- what are the differences between German MPs and MPs in other languages (for instance Italian)?
- what strategies are available in languages different from German for expressing the meaning of MPs?
- are there privileged morphosyntactic, lexico-semantic and conversational environments for the use of specific German/Italian MPs?
- to what extent does sociolinguistic variation play a role in the formal properties of MPs in Italian and German?
- is it possible to draw a line between colloquial and less colloquial/more formal contexts of use of the MPs?


Day 1: Monday 15th November 2021
Ca' Foscari, Aula Baratto & Zoom


Maria Thurmair, University of Regensburg (keynote speaker)

Was sollten wir in der Didaktik von Modalpartikeln berücksichtigen? Einige Anregungen

11.00 - 11.45
Marta Massaia, University of Utrecht

''Allora'' als Diskurspartikel des Italienischen

Lunch break

Manuela Caterina Moroni, University of Bergamo (keynote speaker)

Die Modalpartikel ''schon'' und ihre Entsprechungen im Italienischen

15.00 - 15.45
Peter Paschke, Ca' Foscari University of Venice

Zur korpusbasierten Untersuchung quantitativer Aspekte der Modalpartikelverwendung im Deutschen

Coffee break

Federica Cognola, Ca' Foscari University of Venice

German ''doch'': how to translate presupposition and contrast in Italian

Andreas Trotzke, University of Konstanz (keynote speaker)

How to do things with German particles: The syntax-pragmatics interface in the foreign language classroom

20.00 Social dinner

Day 2: Tuesday 16th November 2021
Ca' Foscari, Aula Baratto & Zoom

10.00- 11.00
Marco Coniglio, University of Göttingen (keynote speaker)

Ways of grammaticalizing modal particles: a German-Italian comparative perspective

Nicola Munaro, Ca' Foscari University of Venice

Some additional comparative remarks on ''po'' and its Dolomitic cognates


Alessandra Giorgi, Ca' Foscari University of Venice & Cecilia Poletto, Goethe Universität Frankfurt and University of Padua

Prolegomena to a comparative analysis of aggressive expressions in Italian and German

Lunch Break

Pierre-Yves Modicom, Université Bordeaux-Montaigne (keynote speaker)

German Modal Particles and recent typological perspectives on epistemicity and assertions

Roland Hinterhölzl, Ca' Foscari University of Venice

What modal particles refer to

Coffee break

Anna Cardinaletti, Ca' Foscari University of Venice

On verb-based discourse particles

Steven Schoonjans, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt (keynote speaker)

Modal particles and gestures: Cross-linguistic observations

Registration for attendance in presence is obligatory:

Registration is not required for online attendance:

Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 826 1712 0393
Passcode: 4C86hp

Organisers and Scientific Referents

Federica Cognola,
Roland Hinterhölzl,
Peter Paschke,

Segreteria Amministrativa

Dipartimento di Studi Linguistici e Culturali Comparati
Roberta Lina Marinelli,
Alberto Parolo,


Page Updated: 09-Nov-2021