Variation and change of constructions expressing adnominal possession in the dialects of Austria. Results of an indirect questionnaire study
2022-04-12, 11:10–11:30 (Europe/Vienna), Room 2

This paper examines the interplay of semantics, syntax and pragmatics of noun phrases in Bavarian and Alemannic dialects in Austria from a variationist perspective. Therefore, the talk will focus on adnominal syntactic constructions of expressing semantic relations of possession (cf. Kasper 2015a, 2015b). The synchronic variation of these constructions is examined by means of a comprehensive apparent-time study of Austria’s base dialects conducted within the framework of the Special Research Program “German in Austria” (SFB F 60) (cf. Budin et al. 2019) and its project part “Variation and change of dialect varieties in Austria (in real und apparent time)”.

Data for this study come from a written questionnaire in which 103 speakers from 37 different rural village participated. This multitude of research locations, covering the entire Austrian language space, allows focusing on areal-horizontal analyses (cf. Bülow et al. 2022). First results show, on the one hand, that whereas constructions in which the possessor phrase follows the possessum phrase (postnominal von-construction) seem to be evenly distributed all over Austria. On the other hand, the analyses reveal clear geographical patterns for those constructions in which the possessor phrase precedes the possessum phrase within the entire construction (adnominal possessive dative construction, prenominal von-construction, and prenominal genitive construction). In this paper, I will propose to focus on the discursive properties of the possessor phrase to explain the fact that in all investigated dialects the possessor can precede the possessum.

In addition, the suitability of an indirect method for exploring adnominal possession is discussed (for other approaches see Bülow et al. 2022; Goryczka et al. accepted).


Budin, Gerhard, Stephan Elspaß, Alexandra N. Lenz, Stefan Michael Newerkla & Arne Ziegler. 2019. The Research Project ‚German in Austria‘. Variation – Contact – Perception. In: Bülow, Lars, Ann-Kathrin Fischer & Kristina Herbert (eds.): Dimensionen des sprachlichen Raumes. Variation – Mehrsprachigkeit – Konzeptualisierung. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang (Schriften zur deutschen Sprache in Österreich), 7–35.

Bülow, Lars, Philip C. Vergeiner & Stephan Elspaß. 2022. Structures of Adnominal Possession in Austria’s Traditional Dialects – Variation and Change. In: Journal of Linguistic Geography 9 (2), 1-17. Open Access, DOI:

Goryczka, Pamela, Anja Wittibschlager, Katharina Korecky-Kröll & Alexandra N. Lenz. accepted. Variation und Wandel adnominaler Possessivkonstruktionen im Deutschen. Horizontal-areale und vertikal-soziale Analysen zum österreichischen Sprachraum. In: Zeitschrift für Dialektologie und Linguistik.

Kasper, Simon. 2015a. Adnominale Possessivität in den Hessischen Dialekten. In: Michael Elmentaler, Markus Hundt & Jürgen Erich Schmidt (eds.): Deutsche Dialekte. Konzepte, Probleme, Handlungsfelder: Akten des 4. Kongresses der Internationalen Gesellschaft für Dialektologie des Deutschen (IGDD). Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 211–226, 505–506.

Kasper, Simon. 2015b. Linking syntax and semantics of adnominal possession in the history of German. In: Chiara Gianollo, Agnes Jäger & Doris Penka (eds.): Language change at the syntax-semantics interface (Trends in Linguistics Studies and Monographs 278). Berlin: de Gruyter, 57–99.

Panel affiliation

Structures of Adnominal Possession in German Varieties – Factors of Variation and Change

This speaker also appears in: