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TEACHING GERMAN MODAL PARTICLES: A CORPUS-BASED APPROACH



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Language Learning Technology http llt msu edu vol5num3 mollering September 2001 Vol 5 Num 3 pp 130 151 TEACHING GERMAN MODAL PARTICLES A CORPUS BASED APPROACH Martina M llering Macquarie University Sydney ABSTRACT The comprehension and correct use of German modal particles poses manifold problems for learners of German as a foreign language since the meaning of these particles is complex and highly dependent on contextual features which can be linguistic as well as situational Following the premise that German modal particles occur with greater frequency in the spoken language the article presents an analysis which is based on corpora representing spoken German The concept spoken language is discussed critically with regard to the corpora chosen for analysis and narrowed down in relation to the use of modal particles The analysis is based on the following corpora Freiburger Korpus Dialogstrukturenkorpus and Pfeffer Korpus In addition a collection of telephone conversations Brons Albert 1984 was scanned into computer readable files and analysed using MicroConcord Scott Johns 1993 A quantitative analysis was carried out on all corpora The qualitative analysis was limited to the telephone conversations and looks at the constraints on and functions of the different occurrences of the form eben INTRODUCTION Discourse particles occur in a variety of languages and have been analysed in great detail for the English language by Schiffrin 1987 Particles of the modal particle type are prevalent in West Germanic languages Dutch Frisian and German e g de Vriendt Vandeweghe Van de Craen 1991 Abraham 1991a for the link between German Frisian and Dutch Aijmer 1997 for Swedish Research interest in German modal particles arose in the late 1960s with the advent of a more pragmatically oriented approach to linguistics They started to shed their image as superfluous stylistically dubious fillers that had to be avoided in proper German Busse 1992 Since Kriwonossow s 1963 first published



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