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      Accompaniment by participation: The interpretation of mit as a free particle in German

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          Abstract

          This paper is about the interpretation of free mit ‘with’ in German as exemplified by Ben bastelt mit am Rad (lit. Ben tinkers with with the bike) ‘Ben is participating in a tinkering with the bike’ and Ben ist mit der größte (lit. Ben is with the tallest) ‘Ben belongs to the tallest people’. It provides a uniform compositional semantics according to which free mit distributes its target predication over the explicit subject and implicit alternatives in such a way that the subject is said to accompany an implicit host situation by participation. The proposal thus argues against previous approaches that treat free mit as a focus particle or an elliptical PP and that consider its combination with the superlative a separate construction. The evidence is drawn from a wide range of semantic-pragmatic properties not disclosed before: free mit is insensitive to focus and projection, while it introduces a distinction between a discourse-transparent accompaniment by the subject referent and discourse-opaque alternatives. Most crucially, free mit is only compatible with predication types that support an extension by accompaniment. While the analysis zooms in on a special lexeme, it also advances more general topics: the opposition between constructional and compositional approaches to the constitution of meaning, accompaniment relations as a vital diagnostic for the ontological foundation of predication types, and the intriguing behavior of the superlative in distributional contexts.

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          Most cited references42

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          Vagueness and grammar: the semantics of relative and absolute gradable adjectives

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            The Logic of Conventional Implicatures

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              Events in the semantics of English. A study in subatomic semantics

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                2397-1835
                Glossa: a journal of general linguistics
                Ubiquity Press
                2397-1835
                09 July 2019
                2019
                : 4
                : 1
                : 76
                Affiliations
                [1 ]University of Tübingen, Nauklerstraße, Tübingen, DE
                Author information
                http://orcid.org/0000-0001-6927-725X
                Article
                10.5334/gjgl.734
                94cef94a-7c1e-4884-bff5-ebda7d95c2e6
                Copyright: © 2019 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

                History
                : 21 June 2018
                : 21 January 2019
                Categories
                Research

                General linguistics,Linguistics & Semiotics
                superlative,states and events,particles,natural language ontology,compositional semantics

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