2022-04-12, 11:00–11:10 (Europe/Vienna), Room 2

In the last two decades variationists (and particularly dialectologists) have shown increasing interest in syntactic phenomena. This growing interest is, for example, reflected in a broad spectrum of innovative large-scale syntactic atlas projects across Europe which deal with variation and change of dialect syntax (see e.g., SAND; SADS; ScanDiaSyn).
Nowadays, a large number of research projects focus on dialect syntax in German speaking countries such as Austria, Germany, and Switzerland (see e.g., DiÖ; SADS; SyHD; SynAlm; SynBai). As these projects learn from each other and researchers are in constant contact, it comes as no surprise that all projects work on similar variables (and on dialect region-specific phenomena). Thus, comparability and generalizability – major goals in science – are ensured. One of the variables which attracted attention in all these dialect syntax projects is the adnominal syntactic construction of expressing the semantic relation of possession. Here, particularly speakers of the various German varieties have recourse to a high number of syntactic variants, i.e. for example adnominal possessive dative constructions, pre- and postnominal von-constructions, pre- and postnominal genitive constructions, etc. (cf. Kasper 2015b).
Even though many empirical studies have emphasized adnominal syntactic variants of expressing the semantic relation of possession in the last decades (see e.g., Bart 2006, Weiß 2008, 2012, Kasper 2015a, 2015b, 2017, Breuer & Bülow 2019, Bülow et al. submitted, Goryczka et al. accepted), an integrated perspective – bringing together comprehensive results from different (dialect) regions in German speaking countries – is missing. Thus, in this introductory talk we aim to give an overview of current variationist research on adnominal possessive constructions in different German speaking countries. We try to highlight the most important constructions, the various theoretical approaches, and their numerous constraints and factors. One important goal is to underline the complex interplay of semantic, pragmatic, social, and syntactic factors that structure the variation and seem to license certain constructions in different dialect regions in different ways. Furthermore, we aim to discuss advantages and disadvantages of traditional and innovative methods, e.g. in the context of “language production experiments” (see Breuer & Bülow 2019). Finally, we provide a preview of the panel talks considering the survey region, methodological approaches, theoretical concepts, and factors of variation.

Panel affiliation

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


Bart, Gabriela. 2006. Ds Grossvatersch Brilla oder di Brilla vam Grossvater. Zu den Possessivkonstruktionen im Schweizerdeutschen. Zurich: University of Zurich unpublished thesis.
Breuer, Ludwig M. & Lars Bülow. 2019. Experimental approaches in the realm of language variation– How Language Production Tests can help us to better understand language variation. In Lars Bülow, Ann-Kathrin Fischer & Kristina Herbert (eds.), Dimensionen des sprachlichen Raums. Variation– Mehrsprachigkeit– Konzeptualisierung, (Schriften zur deutschen Sprache in Österreich), vol. 45, 251–272. Frankfurt am Main et al: Peter Lang Verlag.
Bülow, Lars, Philip C. Vergeiner & Stephan Elspaß. 2020. [submitted]. Structures of Adnominal Possession in Austria’s Base Dialects – Variation and Change. Journal of Linguistic Geography.
DiÖ = Deutsch in Österreich. (16 July 2020)
Goryczka, Pamela, Anja Wittibschlager, Katharina Korecky-Kröll & Alexandra N. Lenz. 2020. [accepted]. Variation und Wandel adnominaler Possessivkonstruktionen im Deutschen. 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), 211–226, 505–506. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner.
Kasper, Simon. 2015b. Linking syntax and semantic 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), 57–99. Berlin: de Gruyter.
Kasper, Simon. 2017. Adnominale Possession. In SyHD-atlas. (15 March 2017).
SADS = Syntaktischer Atlas der deutschen Schweiz. (16 July 2020).
SAND = Syntactische Atlas van de Nederlandse Dialecten. (16 July 2020).
ScanDiaSyn = Scandinavian Dialect Syntax. (16 July 2020).
SyHD = Syntax hessischer Dialekte. (16 July 2020).
SynAlm = Syntax des Alemannischen. (16 July 2020).
SynBai = Syntax des Bairischen.
Weiß, Helmut. 2008. The possessor that appears twice. Variation, structure and function of possessive doubling in German. In Sjef Barbiers, Olaf Koeneman & Marika Lekakou (eds.), Microvariation in Syntactic Doubling (Syntax and Semantics 36), 381–401. Leiden: Brill.
Weiß, Helmut. 2012. The rise of DP-internal possessors. On the relationship of dialectal synchrony to diachrony. In Gunther de Vogelaer & Guido Seiler (eds.), The dialect laboratory. Dialects as a testing ground for theories of language change, 271–293. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

... is currently a doctoral student at the German Department of the University of Vienna, Austria.
Main research interests: variationist linguistics and sociolinguistics with a focus on the linguistic levels of (morpho-)syntax and pragmatics

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