A diachronic quantitative inquiry into the preterite morphology of Dutch
The goal of this project is to trace the diachronic development of the preterite morphology in Dutch from the early Middle Ages up until present-day Dutch. The primary focus is on the competition between (1) the so-called strong inflection (e.g. vaar – voer (‘sail’)), which is based on root apophony (Ablaut), and has developed from the Proto-Indo-European perfect (Mailhammer 2007), (2) the so- called weak inflection (e.g. vaar – vaarde), which is based on an originally analytic formation with the Proto-Indo-European root dheh1/dhoh1 (‘do’) though other sources may have contributed as well (Heath 1998, Hill 2010), and (3) the analytic perfect (e.g. vaar – heeft gevaren), which follows a well- known typological pathway from aspect to tense (Hengeveld 2011).
There is a lot of research on the topic, both in psycholinguistics, acquisition, and historical linguistics, but most of the historical studies concentrate on the early reconstruction, or deal with particular subperiods in history. For Dutch especially, diachronic corpus studies spanning several centuries are lacking, and large-scale studies like for instance De Vriendt (1965) are mostly confined to the descriptive level. Other Germanic languages have drawn more scholarly attention (Strik 2015 on Swedish and Frisian; Lieberman et al. 2007 on English; Carroll et al. 2012 for German, among many others).
The project at hand will combine data from text corpora (Corpus Gysseling, dbnl, Nederlab) and reference grammars (see De Smet 2016 for an overview) to build a multiple regression model that integrates both language internal factors and regional factors. On the methodological level, this is a noticeable step forward when compared with the simple models of Lieberman et al. and Carroll et al.
The 11-month appointment will be used to write out a more detailed, full research proposal to be submitted to FWO for funding (research fellowship), and to co-publish with the supervisor about the preliminary results in De Smet (2016).