Wh-optatives in Danish: Compositional and Noncompositional Aspects

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    Danish has an optative taking the form of a wh-clause with embedded word order: Hvem der var rig! lit. ‘Who there were rich!’ with the intended meaning Wish I were rich! Such wh-clauses cannot be used as optatives in German or English (or only marginally so). On the basis of a detailed analysis of the syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of this little-studied phenomenon, this article seeks to explain why a wh-clause with “embedded” word order can be used as an optative. I argue that wh-optatives are compositional in many but not all respects. It is a special construction whose interpretation is determined to a large extent by its grammatical properties but which also has completely idiosyncratic properties. In German and English, such wh-clauses are only potential optatives: They are not used as optatives, but nothing would preclude it.
    Danish has an optative taking the form of a wh-clause with embedded word order: Hvem der var rig! lit. ‘Who there were rich!’ with the intended meaning Wish I were rich! Such wh-clauses cannot be used as optatives in German or English (or only marginally so). On the basis of a detailed analysis of the syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of this little-studied phenomenon, this article seeks to explain why a wh-clause with “embedded” word order can be used as an optative. I argue that wh-optatives are compositional in many but not all respects. It is a special construction whose interpretation is determined to a large extent by its grammatical properties but which also has completely idiosyncratic properties. In German and English, such wh-clauses are only potential optatives: They are not used as optatives, but nothing would preclude it.
    LanguageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Germanic Linguistics
    Volume25
    Issue number2
    Pages137-192
    ISSN1470-5427
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 2013

    Cite this

    @article{f4382717966d48788c16a9285c24941e,
    title = "Wh-optatives in Danish: Compositional and Noncompositional Aspects",
    abstract = "Danish has an optative taking the form of a wh-clause with embedded word order: Hvem der var rig! lit. ‘Who there were rich!’ with the intended meaning Wish I were rich! Such wh-clauses cannot be used as optatives in German or English (or only marginally so). On the basis of a detailed analysis of the syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of this little-studied phenomenon, this article seeks to explain why a wh-clause with “embedded” word order can be used as an optative. I argue that wh-optatives are compositional in many but not all respects. It is a special construction whose interpretation is determined to a large extent by its grammatical properties but which also has completely idiosyncratic properties. In German and English, such wh-clauses are only potential optatives: They are not used as optatives, but nothing would preclude it.",
    author = "Bjarne {\O}rsnes",
    year = "2013",
    doi = "10.1017/S1470542713000019",
    language = "English",
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    pages = "137--192",
    journal = "Journal of Germanic Linguistics",
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    }

    Wh-optatives in Danish : Compositional and Noncompositional Aspects. / Ørsnes, Bjarne.

    In: Journal of Germanic Linguistics, Vol. 25, No. 2, 2013, p. 137-192.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

    TY - JOUR

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    T2 - Journal of Germanic Linguistics

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    AB - Danish has an optative taking the form of a wh-clause with embedded word order: Hvem der var rig! lit. ‘Who there were rich!’ with the intended meaning Wish I were rich! Such wh-clauses cannot be used as optatives in German or English (or only marginally so). On the basis of a detailed analysis of the syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of this little-studied phenomenon, this article seeks to explain why a wh-clause with “embedded” word order can be used as an optative. I argue that wh-optatives are compositional in many but not all respects. It is a special construction whose interpretation is determined to a large extent by its grammatical properties but which also has completely idiosyncratic properties. In German and English, such wh-clauses are only potential optatives: They are not used as optatives, but nothing would preclude it.

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