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What does a verb? Indicate sentence type : The history of the Germanic sentence type system

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Abstract

An important task of the verb in German is to indicate sentence type. Depending on where the verb is positioned, the clause is a declarative (verb after the first constituent, which can be any constituent), wh-interrogative (verb after the first constituent, being the wh-phrase), yes/no-interrogative (verb in first position, bearing indicative or subjunctive mood) or imperative clause (verb in first position, bearing imperative mood). This system developed out of a system in which sentence type was indicated by clause-final sentence mood particles, as is usual in older Indo-European (and Semitic) languages. In declarative sentences, the verb-second syntax only came about shortly before the Old High German attestation sets in. We can trace the gradual development of the modern German verb-second syntax with variable prefield from a clear topic-comment structure to a more flexible structure.

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Keywords: Old High German; prefield; sentence type; verb-second

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 31, 2019

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