Variation in progressive constructions in two Germanic contact varieties

This presentation focusses on progressive aspect in two Germanic contact varieties, namely Pennsylvania Dutch spoken in the USA and Cité Duits spoken in Belgium. Our aim is to provide a comparative account of the respective progressive constructions in these two contact varieties by combining quantitative with qualitative methods. The examination of progressive constructions is particularly intriguing because the ‘source varieties’ of Pennsylvania Dutch and Cité Duits lack a grammaticalized progressive marker, which means that there are several ways to denote progressivity.
Pennsylvania Dutch is based on a Palatine-German dialect and has been in contact with English for 300 years, whereas Cité Duits (lit. ‘mining district German’) emerged in close contact with Belgian Dutch, a Limburgish dialect and various non-standard varieties of German in the 1930s. While Cité Duits developed in a group of speakers of various home languages and is clearly moribund, Pennsylvania Dutch has remained a thriving minority language and is actively used for in-group communication until the present. Based on spoken language data, we demonstrate that these two varieties, which emerged under quite distinct sociolinguistic conditions, share similar expressions of ongoingness but also differ in some aspects. As exemplified below, both Pennsylvania Dutch (1) and Cité Duits (2) use the am-progressive:

(1) der hund war am nei gucke gwest. (PD)
the dog was PROG into watchINF bePP
‘The dog had been looking into (a jar).’

(2) ich war da aan spaZIERen; =hè? (CD)
I was there PROG walkINF Q
‘I was walking there.’

While these two constructions resemble (dialectal varieties of) German and Dutch, our analysis suggests that both Pennsylvania Dutch and Cité Duits exhibit a number of syntactic and semantic features that clearly distinguish them from most (dialectal) varieties of German. Our empirical evidence is drawn from elicited narrations and spontaneous-like conversations. The analysis of Pennsylvania Dutch is based on eleven speakers recorded in Ohio in 2017, whereas the data of Cité Duits stems from group interactions of 14 male speakers collected in Belgium between 2012 and 2016 (six hours in total). Our presentation aims to provide more evidence for the outcomes of language contact between closely-related varieties, while also discussing some of the sociolinguistic factors involved in the emergence and maintenance of these particular contact varieties.

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