Gutzmann, Daniel. 2007. Eine Implikatur konventioneller Art: Der Dativus Ethicus. Linguistische Berichte 211. 277–308.
Although the German ethical dative mir is an inflected form of the personal pronoun ich, it has been classified as a modal particle – an analysis which is supported by the syntactic and semantic properties of the ethical dative mir. Syntactically the ethical dative cannot be fronted or coordinated; neither can it receive main stress. Semantically it can be neither focused nor be in the scope of an operator, and it is not part of the propositional content of the sentence in which it occurs. In this paper, I provide an alternative account to explain its syntactic and semantic properties without treating a personal pronoun as a modal particle. Following the theory of conventional implicatures developed by Christopher Potts (2005), the ethical dative can be analysed as an expression of type 〈ta, tc〉 that yields a second proposition of type tc, which is independent from the proposition to which it is applied. This second proposition is defined by the conventionalized meaning of the ethical dative and expresses – though not propositionally articulated – that the speaker has some personal interest in the hearer’s execution of the action requested. With this semantics for the ethical dative in mind, one can explain its syntactic properties without postulating a modal particle mir.
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