Agentive selbst in German

  • Daniel Hole


This paper deals with the syntax and semantics of the German adverbial intensifying particle selbst/selber as in Paul hat seine Wäsche selbst gewaschen ‘Paul has done his washing himself.’ I will claim that selbst denotes the identity function, and that it takes the agentive Voice head proposed by Kratzer (1996) as its semantic argument. This minimal semantics will be combined with standard assumptions about information structure to derive the specific contextual restrictions encountered with adverbial intensifiers. Section 1 prepares the ground for this analysis by presenting a similar account of adnominal intensifiers as in Paul selbst hat seine Wäsche gewaschen ‘Paul himself has done his washing’. The discussion of adnominal intensifiers adopts basic insights arrived at by Moravcsik (1972), König (1991), Siemund (2000a) and Eckardt (2000). Section 2 constitutes the main body of the paper. First some effort is made to tell apart adnominal from adverbial uses of intensifiers by using criteria that do not just rely on (surface) position. I will oppose Eckardt’s position that most adverbial intensifiers are interpreted like adnominal intensifiers; moreover I will note a close link between adverbial intensifiers and agentivity which justifies dubbing adverbial intensifiers “agentive intensifiers” (section 2.1). Tasks to be dealt with in the following are identified in section 2.2, at the same time previous proposals and categorizations are reviewed. Section 2.3 introduces the analysis in terms of Voice.
How to Cite
Hole, D. (2019). Agentive selbst in German. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 6, 133-150.