Gutzmann, Daniel and Elena Castroviejo Miró. 2011. The dimensions of VERUM. In: Bonami, Olivier & Cabredo Hofherr, Patricia (ed.): Empirical Issues in Syntax and Semantics 8. 143–165.


In this paper we study the semantics of so-called verum focus from the point of view of a multi-dimensional semantic model. As coined by Höhle (1992), verum focus is non-contrastive focus on the verb or a complementizer located in C in German, and it is a way of realizing the corresponding operator VERUM. In the small amount of previous literature, VERUM has been treated as a pure semantic operator. In contrast, we show that those one-dimensional treatments make the wrong predictions about the truth-conditions of an utterance involving verum focus as well as about its discourse contribution. Equipped with a multidimensional semantic framework, we treat VERUM as an expressive function that operates in the use-conditional dimension. It takes as argument a proposition p and expresses the interpretational instruction to downdate the corresponding question ?p from the question under discussion. We show that this approach to VERUM can account for the distribution of verum focus, and its discourse contribution.

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