‘On-Line’-Inferences in the Semantics of 'Dann' and 'Then'

  • Antje Roßdeutscher


The paper presents a theory of the semantics and the discourse effects of German temporal dann and English then in their sentence-initial, –internal and –final positions. The theory provides an algorithmic reconstruction of these differences on the basis of a single specification of the semantics of dann/then, which interacts with other semantic elements at sentence and discourse level in ways that vary with its position. The requirement which dann/then imposes is that the time it denotes is separated from the time which the narration had reached by a change in some contextually salient property of a topical discourse referent. What is available as contextually salient property depends on where dann/then occurs in the sentence. Integration of this insight into a general account of semantic processing entails a shift of perspective in current semantic theory. Semantic processing must now be treated as incremental following the left to right order not only sentence by sentence but also word by word.
How to Cite
Roßdeutscher, A. (2019). ‘On-Line’-Inferences in the Semantics of ’Dann’ and ’Then’. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 9, 325-339. https://doi.org/10.18148/sub/2005.v9i0.772