[Lingtyp] common background particles

Vladimir Panov panovmeister at gmail.com
Tue Dec 4 16:03:16 UTC 2018

Dear collegues,

In some languages of Europe (e.g. Russian and German) there are special
markers ("particles") that have among their core functions the one of
"reminding" the hearer of some common background information that s/he is
expected to share with the speaker.

S1: Magazin zakryt.
      shop      closed
      The shop is closed

S2: Konečno, segodnia *že*    voskresen'je
      of.course  today      PRT  Sunday
      Of course, (you know that) today is Sunday.

In Russian, *že* has some other prominent functions as well. A very similar
meaning is also provided by the sentence-initial *ved'* ("common ground" is
its core meaning). For German, the particles *ja *and, to a certain extent,
*doch* are often descirbed in similar terms. For both German and Russian,
these particles have been extensively studied.

Markers having this meaning as at least one of the prominent ones are found
in many languages the Circum-Baltic region, Eastern and Northern Europe,
Finno-Ugric languages of the European part of Russia. However, they seem to
be rare or even absent in Romance languages (but are present in Latin), the
rest of West Germanic languages and in the Balkans. Arguably, the overt
marking of this meaning may be considered an areal feature of this
particular macroregion.

I would like to ask if anyone is aware of languages beyond Europe that have
this type of markers. I am mostly interested in the rest of Eurasia, but
not only.

Thank you,
Vladimir Panov
(Vilnius University / Russian Academy of Sciences)
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