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The questions are on the während-clause in this excerpt from Kafka's Der Verschollene.

Wäre dieser Vorschlag durchgedrungen, dann hätten diejenigen, welche schlafen wollten, dies im Dunkel der einen Saalhälfte – es war ein großer Saal mit vierzig Betten – ruhig tun können, während die anderen im beleuchteten Teil Würfel oder Karten hätten spielen und alles übrige besorgen können, wozu Licht nötig war.

Questions

  1. Am I right to think that the two ideas being conjoined in the clause, had they stood alone, would be:

während die anderen im beleuchteten Teil Würfel oder Karten hätten spielen können

während die anderen im beleuchteten Teil alles übrige hätten besorgen können, wozu Licht nötig war

  1. If yes to 1, then it is perfectly grammatical (if less stylistic) to say the following instead?

während die anderen im beleuchteten Teil Würfel oder Karten hätten spielen können und alles übrige hätten besorgen können, wozu Licht nötig war

  1. If yes to 1, would the following be also grammatical?

während die anderen im beleuchteten Teil Würfel oder Karten hätten spielen können und alles übrige besorgen können, wozu Licht nötig war

(The intuition behind this re-arrangement may be put thus: The second idea is willing enough to borrow hätten from the first. Why can't it let the first idea also have the explicit occurrence of können and borrow it as well? Please, if this parenthetical remark doesn't make sense, just ignore it.)

  1. If there are some general principles that recommend the original clause and either allow, discourage, or prohibit the rearrangement in question 3, please let me know what they are.
4

The answer to 1., 2. and 3. is "Yes". I think 1. and 2. do not need to be explained here. The rule behind 3. is the contracted clause. The two clauses in 1. share the subject, the auxialiary verb and the modal verb, and then it is indeed possible that the second clause "borrows" them (to use your own words) from the first one.

I am not sure whether we can see the original clause as a contracted clause, too. I'd rather say it's just an enumeration of the infinitives (plus their adverbs) that go along with the modal verb können. I'd also say thats the default when you have more than one action being described. You would prefer the rearrangement as in 3. when one of the actions needs a relatively long description that would make the sentence bracket too long, or if you want to put more distance between the two actions, like Karel Čapek in one of his stories:

ich hätte irgend jemanden umbringen können oder lieben

  • That sentence startles me the first time I read it.. and I guess it's intended that way. – Chieron Mar 23 '16 at 23:28
  • Contraction vs. an enumeration filling a single syntactic space. I believe indeed the enumeration thesis is correct. This seems to become more evident when you take the clause out of the während context: "die anderen hätten im beleuchteten Teil Würfel oder Karten spielen und alles übrige besorgen können, wozu Licht nötig war." There, the two enumerated items fill a single uninterrupted space. What led me to the contraction thesis was hätten moving to the "subordinate" position and cutting that field in two. But the contraction view cannot well explain the position of können. – Catomic Mar 24 '16 at 10:16
0
  1. Yes
  2. Yes
  3. No

The infinitive must be in the last position of the sentence, everything afterwards is read as a new sentence.

So it becomes equivalent to the two sentences

..während die anderen im beleuchteten Teil Würfel oder Karten hätten spielen können.

..während die anderen [..] alles übrige besorgen können.

In General, this sentence doesn't make any sense - here, the break in tense with wozu Licht nötig war would be particularly jarring. But it would cause the reader to back up and reread it.

The Verb basically was a compound etwas spielen und etwas besorgen können, where changing the word order is somewhat restricted.

  • Thank you for the portion of your answer down to "... a new sentence." But I could not really follow the remainder. For example, I don't know the reference of "it" in "So it becomes. . ." or of "this sentence" in "In General, this sentence. . . ." – Catomic Mar 22 '16 at 9:19
  • @Catomic This is intended to be read similarly to your question 1. If the words were arranged as in (3), the sentences would parse like that and the second part would become nonsensical. – Chieron Mar 22 '16 at 15:52
  • There are some unclear, if not wrong statements in this answer: "the infinitive must be in the last position of the sentence" (what about the Nachfeld? / "break in tense with wozu Licht nötig war" (everything is set in past tense, where's the break)? / what do you mean by "compound verb" (maybe "predicate" instead of "verb"?) and why and how is the word order restricted in this case? – Matthias Mar 23 '16 at 22:31
  • @Matthias First time I hear the term Nachfeld .. the example sentences in wiki are either relative clauses, subordinate clauses or sound disorganized. The apparent "break in tense" is because the second part of the sentence would be read as present tense. Compound verb means the predicate, word order is restricted because you can not simply break up the infinitive. – Chieron Mar 23 '16 at 23:23
  • The different ordering could be used for artistic purposes, but it definitely is nonstandard. – Chieron Mar 23 '16 at 23:28

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