Focus Particles as Utterances: The Case of German ausgerechnet!

Bjarne Ørsnes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Focus particles such as auch “also”, nur “only” and sogar “even” form a closed word class and do not occur as immediate constituents in German. They usually have to adjoin to an associated focus constituent and are even occasionally referred to as function words. It is quite surprising that the focus particle ausgerechnet “of all X” (Peter kommt ausgerechnet heute “Peter is coming today of all days”) also occurs as an independent utterance as in Peter kommt heute. Ausgerechnet! “Peter is coming today. Of all days!”. The article describes this little studied (colloquial) use of ausgerechnet. It presents a detailed analysis of the focus particle ausgerechnet showing that it is an expressive item in the sense of Christopher Potts. The expressive semantics motivates its use as an utterance in analogy to exclamations with expressives such as the interjection Donnerwetter! “Oh dear!” or the adjective Toll! “great”. The analysis is presented in a construction-based framework and illustrates the need to integrate core and peripheral grammatical phenomena.
Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Linguistica Hafniensia: International Journal of Linguistics
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)133-160
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Published online: 20 Dec 2022.


  • Focus particles
  • Expressives
  • Exclamations
  • Construction grammar
  • Analogy

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