We are happy to announce a talk by Kim Tien Nguyen (Frankfurt) in the Semantics Colloquium.

The talk will take place on campus in IG 4.301.

Title: An empirical study on the wide scope of topical singular indefinites in German

Date: June 1, 2023

Time: 4 pm – 6 pm ct


Endriss (2009) postulates that indefinites marked as aboutness topics take wide scope. Two topic marking devices in German are left dislocation and intonational marking (through a rising accent on the indefinite determiner). By means of three forced choice experiments, the study presented in this talk aims to test Endriss’ (2009) theory. As experiment 1 and 2 could not serve the purpose of testing this theory well due to not accounting for the potential contrastive reading and not controlling for the logical implication between the indefinite wide scope and indefinite narrow scope reading, experiment 3 was conducted with a different design to address these issues. The results of experiment 3 then showed highly significant effects of sentence structure and intonation as topic marking devices that make indefinite wide scope more available or even preferred in German sentences with scope ambiguity. The presented study hence provides the first empirical evidence highlighting the pragmatic influence of information structure and prosody on scope interpretation in German.