Contrast and Underspecification. The Semantics of 'aber' and 'doch'

  • Elena Karagjosova


I present an unitary analysis of the German adversative connectors aber and doch, based on Sæbø (2003), where the semantics of these connectors is defined in terms of a presupposition involving negation and topic alternatives. I argue that the meaning of aber and doch is underspecified between various types of contrast and that the type of contrast they indicate in particular context is determined by the configuration of topic alternatives at hand, which in turn is correlated with the particular syntactic and prosodic properties of the connectors in the concrete discourse as well as with the type of discourse (coordination, dialogue) in which the connectors are used. Finally, I sketch an underspecified semantic representation of the meaning of aber and doch and hint at a disambiguation algorithm that allows the bottom up construction of discourses with these connectors starting from their underspecified representation and employing information about their syntactic and prosodic properties as well as about the information structure and the discourse structure of the particular context in which they occur.
How to Cite
Karagjosova, E. (2019). Contrast and Underspecification. The Semantics of ’aber’ and ’doch’. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 12, 287-302.