German Adjunct Placement

Adjuncts (often adverbs and adverbial phrases; example 1. – 2.) provide sentences with additional information although they are not logically required by the predicate as far as syntactical valence is considered. Most often they are also considered to be rather free as to their position in the sentence. This paper aims for presenting a theoretical model on adjunct positions and validating this model with a statistical background.

  1. Einige Phrasen(I) mag der Schreibende(II) abhängig von seinem Schreibstil[1] lieber[2] an bestimmten Positionen[3]
  2. Abhängig von seinem Schreibstil[1] mag der Schreibende(II) einige Phrasen(I) lieber[2] an bestimmten Positionen[3]

Two possible combinations for placing adjuncts in German (adjuncts [1-3], arguments (I-II)). Translation: Depending on his writing style[1] writers(II) might use some phrases(I) preferentially[2] at distinct positions[3].

The model was developed by the author with a data-driven approach by performing a clause level constituent annotation and shows five different positions for possible adjunct placements in the author’s web-forum corpus.

The preliminary evaluations of the adjunct distribution show for example that in 6.8% of the sentences adjuncts follow the clause final part of the German predicate, ranging from 0% (df = 1, p = 0.1083) to 15% (df = 1, p = 0.006935) between different users. This indicates some dependency of the adjunct placement. Some of those possible dependencies will be discussed in the talk.

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