Stating the obvious: Of course as a focus-sensitive marker of uncontroversiality

  • Margaret Kroll
  • Tom Roberts


The English discourse particle of course, part of a cross-linguistic class of elements that express the ‘uncontroversiality’ of a proposition, has received little attention from theoretical linguists. Studies in the domain of uncontroversiality, particularly of the German particles doch and ja, typically treat uncontroversiality as a property that holds of a proposition for all participants in a discourse. We first show that of course cannot be folded into prior treatments of doch and ja. Furthermore, we argue that of course motivates a finer-grained notion of uncontroversiality that is focus-sensitive and relativized to individual discourse participants. While our analysis in principle allows for relativizing uncontroversiality to multiple discourse participants, we argue that of course is semantically relativized only to the speaker. Rather than being lexically specified, we argue that the apparent addressee-oriented uncontroversiality conveyed by of course follows from general pragmatic reasoning about shared knowledge in a discourse.
How to Cite
Kroll, M., & Roberts, T. (2019). Stating the obvious: Of course as a focus-sensitive marker of uncontroversiality. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 23(2), 37-54.