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Variable determiner use in Dutch Low Saxon: Investigating the interplay between grammatical, stylistic and dialect geographical aspects of its distribution

Definite articles are a core grammatical feature of European languages (Haspelmath 2001). Interestingly, in the Low Saxon dialects of Groningen, the use of definite articles is optional such as in the sentence: kou staait in sloot (cow stands in ditch), see Ter Laan (1953). Since research based on spoken languagedata is still lacking, this project’s starting point is a detailed empirical study of articleuse in Groningen, making use of spontaneously spoken dialect data in addition to questionnaires and pursuing questions posed in Oosterhof (2008) and Pheiff (2019). Furthermore, the project connects to research done on York English article omission (Rupp&Tagliamonte 2019): we aim for a comparison of the grammatical, semantic-pragmatic and socio-demographic factors conditioning the variation inGroningen Dutch and York English, by applying similar statistical analyses as Rupp&Tagliamonte. An interesting aspect is that in both cases, a parallel can be observed between the evolution of the definite article and the contexts of use in which definite articles do not occur. To reach a more detailed overview of variable article use phenomena, the empirical focus can be extended to other contexts with relevant variation such as proper names in Flemish varieties. Looking at Dutch,English, and related dialect data from a contrastive perspective helps to support hypotheses on the historical evolution of definite articles and provide new insights in variable article use phenomena across languages, among other things.
Date:17 Dec 2020 →  30 Sep 2022
Keywords:Dutch language, English language, Dialect variation, Information structure, Determiner system, Syntax, Definiteness, Animacy
Disciplines:Dutch language, Syntax, English language