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Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
German and Scandinavian Studies; Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
James E. Cathey
Robert G. Sullivan
Linguistics | Modern Languages | Religion
Modal Particles (MPs) are uninflected words with little semantic value in modern German and are used mainly in spontaneous spoken language, where the same words with a specific semantic value can also be found as adverbs, particles, or conjunctions. Their identification in an MP function can be done only by syntactic analysis.
The usage of some of these MPs can be documented in texts of Early New High German, a time which was crucial for the establishment of the "sentence frame" in German syntax.
This dissertation is an investigation of Luther's usage of MPs in his translations of the four gospels. The MPs DOCH, DENN, JA, AUCH and NUR can be found in sentences where there is not necessarily an equivalent lexeme in the Greek and Latin source texts.
Luther aimed to produce a text that was linguistically suitable for all groups of readers. The hypothesis is that Luther makes ample use of MPs in direct speech in his translation to make the text more natural according to his effort to use language as spoken by the people.
Using syntactic and semantic analysis, it can be shown which of the words in question actually function as MPs or have another function. Luther's distribution system for the MPs DOCH, DENN, JA, AUCH, and NUR shows similarity to current use, but not in such a wide range. It can be shown that DENN, for example, is in transition from the function as adverb to a MP, but many examples are ambiguous and could be interpreted either way.
It can be shown that certain translation patterns existed between certain Greek particles, their Latin counterparts, and the German MPs. According to a coincidence rate of maximally 4 %, it is apparent that Luther was only sporadically and inconsistently inspired by the occurrence of particles in the source texts, but followed instead German patterns of spoken language when inserting a MP in his translation text.
Keyler-Mayer, Judith, "Luthers Gebrauch Von Modalpartikeln In Seiner Übersetzung Der Vier Evangelien" (2010). Doctoral Dissertations 1896 - February 2014. 150.