Anke Holler (Göttingen)

Correlative 'es' ‒ a Janus face in German grammar


In my talk I will discuss several grammatical aspects of the so-called correlate-es construction in German supporting the hypothesis that correlative es has a janus-faced nature between an expletive and a referential meaning. This is the reason why existing approaches are not sufficient to capture the properties of this construction in its entirety. I will give an overview on correlative es including its empirical properties as well as a brief survey of relevant previous approaches trying to account for the correlative-es construction. None of these accounts is able to capture all relevant facts of the correlate-es construction because they ignore that the realization of correlative es is verb-class dependent. Hence, a new constraint-based analysis is developed that takes both empirical observations into account, the verb-class dependence and the janus-faced nature.