Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 December 2010
This paper is a corpus-based comparative study of modal particles in German and Dutch. We examine the special ability of Dutch and German modal particles to cluster, and demonstrate that Dutch is far more cluster-friendly than German. We also find clear differences in the behavior of cognate particles in the two languages and note that a corpus study reveals quite different patterns from those arrived at by introspection in earlier research. Finally, we suggest that in attempting to capture regularities about particle usage, it is useful to consider not just the linear ordering of particles within a cluster, but also typical non-contiguous pairings (for example, as “brackets” inside which other particles may occur). We also speculate briefly on the function of particle clusters.