Project B18:
Grammar and pragmatics of the German stative passive

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  Subprojects of SFB 441

Head of the project


Prof. Dr. Claudia Maienborn
Deutsches Seminar
Universität Tübingen
Wilhelmstraße 50
72074 Tübingen
Dr. Britta Stolterfoht
10/2006 - 9/2008)
Deutsches Seminar
Universität Tübingen
Wilhelmstr. 50, room 443
72074 Tübingen

Tel.: +49/7071/29-72964
Fax: +49/7071/29-5321

Tel.: +49/7071/29-78445
Fax: +49/7071/29-5760
office: Andrea Berger; Tel: +49 7071 29 74269
WWW: Homepage

Helga Gese
(7/2006 - 12/2008)
SFB 441
Universität Tübingen
Nauklerstraße 35, room 2.11
72074 Tübingen

Tel.: +49/7071/29-77150
Fax: +49/7071/29-5830
Research assistants:
Corpus linguistics: Simone Alex
Psycholinguistics: Nadja Choeb


Consultant members:

Dr. Doreen Bryant

Dr. des. Maria Averintseva, M.A.

Sebastian Bücking

Central aims

The project investigates the meaning constitution of the German stative passive. The central aim is to analyze the underlying lexical, grammatical, conceptual, and pragmatic conditions of the stative passive and to reconstruct their interrelations in a theoretically and empirically well motivated model which takes into account different kinds of data types (corpus data, experimental data, introspective data).
The major claim of the project is that the role pragmatics plays in the meaning constitution of stative passive constructions is more significant than previously assumed and that the role of the lexicon and grammar is thus to be reduced accordingly.
The starting point of our investigation is the working hypothesis that the so called stative passive is a combination of a copula plus an adjectivized verbal participle by which an ad hoc property is ascribed to the referent of the subject term. While the grammar imposes only few constraints on the construction; the task of legitimating and interpreting such an ad hoc property in context is basically the task of pragmatics.
By referring to the notion of ad hoc properties, the project takes up recent developments in cognitive psychology with the aim of applying Lawrence Barsalou's theory of mental representations to linguistic analysis. The major goal of the project is the formulation of new insights into the interrelationship of grammar, pragmatics and cognition. In our view, the category change (verb
à adjective) that is characteristic for the stative passive and its contextual and conceptual conditions constitute a particularly insightful and scarcely investigated field of exploration for this kind of interrelation.

For further information refer to Project proposal in German (pdf)

Claudia Maienborn (2007). Das Zustandspassiv: Grammatische Einordnung – Bildungsbeschränkungen – Interpretationsspielraum. In: Zeitschrift für Germanistische Linguistik     35.1: 83-114.
Helga Gese, Claudia Maienborn & Britta Stolterfoht (2008). On the formation of adjectival passives: the case of unaccusatives. Ms. eingereicht.
Barbara Kaup, Jana Lüdtke & Claudia Maienbonr (2008). "The drawer is still closed": Simulating past and future actions when processing sentences that describe a state. Ms. eingereicht.
Britta Stolterfoht, Helga Gese & Claudia Maienborn (2008). Word category conversion causes processing costs: evidence from adjectival passives. Ms. eingereicht.
Helga Gese, Britta Stolterfoht & Claudia Maienborn (2009). Context effects in the formation of adjectival resultatives. Erscheint in: S. Winkler & S. Featherston (eds.) The
Fruits of Empirical Linguistics. Volume 2: Product. Berlin: de Gruyter.
Claudia Maienborn (2009). Building event-based ad hoc properties: On the interpretation of adjectival passives. Erscheint in: Arndt Rister & Torgrim Solstad (eds.) Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 13, 2008.

Last modified 16 March 2009 by Helga Gese