Der Fokus im Mittelfeld

  • Michael Richter


In this article a proposal is made for the treatment of a construction which is known under the terminus "verschrnkte Konstruktion" (Kvam 1982); it includes the so called "third construction". Example (1) shows a sentence with a syntactic complement of an infinite verb standing before the governing finite verb:

(1) richterAbstract1.gif

The proposal is made that the NP on the "wrong" place (in (1) it is the indirect object dir) is a focus in the middlefield ("Mittelfeldfokus"). In the framework of the transformational grammar of Semantic Syntax (Seuren 1996) the sentence-predicate "VATTR" is assumed which is responsible for the filling of the middlefield-position

(2) a richterAbstract2a.gif

and is responsible for topicalisation, too:

b richterAbstract2b.gif

This uniform syntactic treatment of topicalisation and the filling of the focus-position in the middlefield corresponds to the functional similarities of both positions. The focus is the part of the sentence which can contain the new information (Geilfu 1991) and the filling of the focus-position ("Fokussierung") is a means to make prominent a certain part of the sentence with the background of common information in the discourse of speaker and hearer.

It is proposed in this article that the constructions in question are not-coherent in the sense of Bech (1983). For a sentence like (2)a no form of raising has to be assumed. The infinite embedded sentence is extraposed: no union of matrix-sentence and infinite complement has taken place.

Richter, M. (2002). Der Fokus im Mittelfeld. Linguistik Online, 12(3).