What is it about?

Contrary to Italian and many other languages, German has a linguistic means to mark the speaker’s stance: the so-called modal particles, such as WOHL, EBEN and JA. This paper analyses their complex meaning arising from the intertwined relations between speaker – hearer – state of affairs as the three key entities of stance they mark and the textual or situational context, concluding that they have only covert epistemic and evidential features. This cross-linguistic analysis proves that it is impossible not only to translate them, but also to draw a clear borderline between epistemicity and evidentiality.

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Why is it important?

This paper describes the pragmatic meaning of WOHL, EBEN and JA, compensating the lack of a lexical meaning.


In order to describe meaning and use of single German modal particles, researchers have to find new models which can be used also inside the classroom. This paper tries to contribute to this aim.

Marion Weerning
Universita degli Studi di Palermo

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This page is a summary of: The translatability into Italian of the German stance marking modal particles wohl, eben and ja, Belgian Journal of Linguistics, December 2015, John Benjamins,
DOI: 10.1075/bjl.29.06wee.
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