ERIC Number: ED396576
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1994
Syntactic Variation and Change in Contemporary German.
CLE Working Papers, n3 p114-126 1994
This paper examines the claim that German-language syntax is undergoing a process of restructuring that will eliminate verb final position in sentences, resulting in a very English-style linear sentence structure. One particular structure is examined in interviews with 30 adults and 10 children: the finite verb in subordinate clauses that is increasingly being located in second position, especially in the because-clause, in contexts other than declarative clauses. Survey findings indicate that 47 percent of adults used the verb-second pattern for because-clauses, especially when discussing emotive topics; children used it to an even greater extent. This feature was not found to be restricted to any social grouping, age, sex, or degree of education. Overall, it was found that this new structure is very common in colloquial speech, that likelihood of occurrence depends on linguistic context or function rather than on extralinguistic facts, and that speakers' evaluation of the structure is as variable as their usage of it and broadly corresponds with the hierarchy of usage. Results suggest that economy of effort in production and processing also play a part in this patterned inherent variation, rather than outright linguistic change, in the German language. (Contains 31 references.) (NAV)
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: For complete volume, see FL 023 929.