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German-Portuguese Comparative Grammar: Connectives

Berlin

Object and objectives
Targeted users
Theoretical framework
Data and methods
Cooperation
Supervision of dissertations and theses
Project team
Bibliography
Publications

Rio de Janeiro

 

Object and objectives

This project studies the syntax and semantics of connectives in German and Portuguese (with the emphasis on Brazilian Portuguese).

Connectives form a semantic class defined by the function of linking clauses. They include such units as wenn [‘when’ / ‘if’], oder [‘or’], vorher [‘before’] oder nämlich [‘namely’] in German and se [‘if’], ou [‘or’], antes [‘before’] or pois [‘for’ / ‘namely’] in Portuguese.

From a semantic point of view the links established by means of connectives can be subdivided into three main groups (cf. Sweetser 1990):

(i)    connections between states of affairs (temporal objects),
(ii)   connections between propositions (objects to which truth values or values of desirability can be assigned),
(iii)  connections between speech acts (illocutionary objects).

The connections in (i) will be referred to as temporal connections, those in (ii) as epistemic/deontic connections, and those in (iii) as illocutionary connections.

Within each of these groups the further distinction is made between four types of connection:

(a)   symmetrical connections,
(b)   asymmetric-static connections,
(c)   asymmetric-dynamic connections with an open result,
(d)   asymmetric-dynamic connections with a fixed result.

The connections in (a) will be referred to as similarity connections, those in (b) as situating connections, those in (c) as conditional connections and those in (d) as causal connections.

Combining the two classifications yields the following semantic typology of connections (cf. Blühdorn 2003, 2008, 2010):

(i.a):
temporal similarity
(ii.a):
epistemic/deontic similarity
(iii.a):
illocutionary similarity
(i.b):
temporal situating
(ii.b):
epistemic/deontic situating
(iii.b):
illocutionary situating
(i.c):
temporal condition
(ii.c):
epistemic/deontic condition
(iii.c):
illocutionary condition
(i.d):
temporal cause
(ii.d):
epistemic/deontic cause
(iii.d):
illocutionary cause

Both in German and Portuguese, connections of these different classes can be established by morphosyntactic and lexical means.

Morphosyntactic means of connection comprise, e.g., participle and gerund constructions (especially in Portuguese, less so in German) and case constructions with an adverbial function (only in German; mostly lexicalised as fixed expressions such as eines Tages [‘one day’], den ganzen Abend [‘the whole evening’], meines Erachtens [‘in my opinion’], meines Wissens [‘as far as I know’] etc.). Lexical means of connection (connectives) comprise prepositions, subordinating and coordinating conjunctions, linking adverbs as well as some classes of adverbial particles:

Schema

Prepositions and conjunctions establish syntactic connections between phrases and/or clauses. Adverbial connectives establish referential connections; syntactically they are constituents of one of the connected expressions.

The results of the project will be published in a monograph on the syntax and semantics of connectives in German and Portuguese.

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Targeted users

The project is addressed to specialists in German, Romance or General Linguistics: syntacticians, semanticists, text linguists and lexicographers. Language teachers (of German and/or Portuguese as native or foreign languages) and the general reader interested in languages and linguistics may also benefit from some of the results.

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Theoretical framework

With regard to the German language the description is mainly based on Zifonun, Hoffmann, Strecker et al. (1997), Pasch, Brauße, Breindl & Waßner (2003), Blühdorn, Breindl & Waßner (2004) as well as Breindl, Volodina & Waßner (2014). For Portuguese the main reference works are Gärtner (1998), Bechara (1999), Neves (1999), Neves (2000) as well as the handbook Gramática do Português Culto Falado no Brasil [Grammar of Standard Portuguese Spoken in Brazil] (2006, 2008, 2009). The comparison of German and Portuguese is modelled on Blühdorn (2001), Ravetto & Blühdorn (2011), Blühdorn (2012) and Blühdorn & Ravetto (2014).

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Data and methods

The project aims at a descriptive, object-oriented account of the grammar of connectives in the compared languages which can be used for further studies within different theoretical frameworks.

German data are taken from the IDS corpora, Portuguese data from the NURC corpus (Norma Urbana Culta: Standard Language of the Urban Middle Classes), compiled by researchers from several Brazilian universities, as well as from the COMET corpus (Corpus Multilíngue para Ensino e Tradução: Multilingual Corpus for Language Teaching and Translation), created by researchers at the University of São Paulo (USP). Whenever the empirical basis needs further strengthening, data will be taken from the Internet through freely accessible search tools like "Google".

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Cooperation

The project cooperates with researchers of the Modern Languages Department (Departamento de Letras Modernas) and the Department of Classical and Vernacular Languages (Departamento de Letras Clássicas e Vernáculas) of the University of São Paulo (Brazil) as well as of the Department of Humanities (Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici) of the University of Eastern Piemonte at Vercelli and of the Department of Philology, Literature and Linguistics (Dipartimento di Filologia, Letteratura e Linguistica) of the University of Pisa (Italy).

Researchers in the field of connectives in German and Portuguese-speaking countries are welcome to contact the project team.

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Supervision of dissertations and theses

Gutz Inglez, Karin (2007). Conectores de causa e condição em fóruns de discussão na internet [Causal and Conditional Connectives in Discussion Groups on the Internet]. Doctoral thesis. Departamento de Letras Clássicas e Vernáculas, University of São Paulo, Brazil (in collaboration with Prof Dr Maria Lúcia da Cunha Victório de Oliveira Andrade).

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Project team

Hardarik Blühdorn (project coordinator) hardarik@ids-mannheim.de
Martina Richter (student assistant from 02/2014 to 08/2015)
Canan Sertkaya (student assistant from 11/2015 to 04/2017)
Júlio Junqueira (student assistant since 06/2017)

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Bibliography

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Publications

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Illustrations by Clara Steckel.
Translated into English by Cheryl Lobb de Rahman and Tinka Reichmann.