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An OT analysis of do-support across varieties of German

  • Just like most varieties of West Germanic, virtually all varieties of German use a construction in which a cognate of the English verb 'do' (standard German 'tun') functions as an auxiliary and selects another verb in the bare infinitive, a construction known as 'do'-periphrasis or 'do'-support. The present paper provides an Optimality Theoretic (OT) analysis of this phenomenon. It builds on a previous analysis by Bader and Schmid (An OT-analysis of 'do'-support in Modern German, 2006) but (i) extends it from root clauses to subordinate clauses and (ii) aims to capture all of the major distributional patterns found across (mostly non-standard) varieties of German. In so doing, the data are used as a testing ground for different models of German clause structure. At first sight, the occurrence of 'do' in subordinate clauses, as found in many varieties, appears to support the standard CP-IP-VP analysis of German. In actual fact, however, the full range of data turn out to challenge, rather than support, this model. Instead, I propose an analysis within the IP-less model by Haider (Deutsche Syntax - generativ. Vorstudien zur Theorie einer projektiven Grammatik, Narr, Tübingen, 1993 et seq.). In sum, the 'do'-support data will be shown to have implications not only for the analysis of clause structure but also for the OT constraints commonly assumed to govern the distribution of 'do', for the theory of non-projecting words (Toivonen in Non-projecting words, Kluwer, Dordrecht, 2003) as well as research on grammaticalization.

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Author:Thilo WeberGND
Parent Title (English):The Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics
Place of publication:Berlin [u.a.]
Document Type:Article
Year of first Publication:2018
Date of Publication (online):2019/05/15
Tag:German clause structure; Grammaticalization; Non-projecting words; Optimality Theory; do-support
GND Keyword:Deutsch; Dialektologie; Hilfsverb; Optimalitätstheorie; Syntax; tun
First Page:75
Last Page:129
This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in The Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics. The final authenticated version is available online at: 
DDC classes:400 Sprache / 430 Deutsch
Open Access?:ja
Linguistics-Classification:Dialektologie / Sprachgeografie
Licence (German):License LogoUrheberrechtlich geschützt