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Between Specification and Explanation: About a German Discourse Particle

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image of International Review of Pragmatics

This paper provides a unified semantic and discourse pragmatic analysis of the German particle nämlich, traditionally described as having a specificational and an explanative reading. Our claim is that nämlich is a discourse marker which signals that the expression it is attached to is a short (elliptic) answer to a salient implicit question about the previous utterance. We show how both the explanative and the specificational reading can be derived from this more general semantic contribution. In addition we discuss some cross linguistic consequences of our analysis.


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