Strunk, Jan Angelo Joachim (2005). The role of animacy in the nominal possessive constructions of Modern Low Saxon. In: PIONIER Workshop on Animacy, May 20, 2005, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Speech.

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The dialects of modern Low Saxon dispose of multiple nominal constructions to express possession. The noun phrases in (1) – (4) exemplify these four different constructions. (1) sien Huus his house "his house" (2) Anna ehr Huus Anna her house "Anna's house" (3) Oma's Huus grandma=POSS house "grandma's house" (4) dat Huus vun de CDU the house of the CDU "the house of the Christian Democrats" After establishing these four constructions as a case of syntactic alternation using authentic examples taken from a one million word corpus of Low Saxon texts, I discuss the role of animacy in the domain of nominal possessive constructions. I examine animacy per se and several additional factors that have been connected to animacy in the literature such as concreteness, person, and number. Moreover, I also take a look at the possessive relation between possessor and possessum and discuss how it is connected to animacy. My research shows that animacy plays a very important role for the choice of possessive construction in Low Saxon and that the animacy level of the possessor is much more important than the animacy level of the possessum. The three prenominal constructions (1) – (3) in which the possessor phrase precedes the possessum phrase are generally used with more animate possessors than the postnominal construction in (4). This is in line with the few comments on these constructions given in descriptive grammars on Low Saxon, e.g. Saltveit (1983), and with results of previous studies on the possessive alternation in English (eg. Leech et al. 1994 and Rosenbach 2002). The fact that the prenominal possessive constructions in (1) – (3) pattern more closely together than each does with the postnominal possessive construction in (4) lends further support to Rosenbach's theory for English that the influence of animacy on the choice of possessive construction is based on the different linear order of possessor and possessum. However, I will also show that there are some differences between the prenominal constructions regarding the role of animacy.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
Strunk, Jan Angelo Joachimjan.strunk@uni-koeln.deUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-69141
Date: 20 May 2005
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Fächergruppe 1: Kunstgeschichte, Musikwissenschaft, Medienkultur und Theater, Linguistik, IDH > Institut für Linguistik
Subjects: Language, Linguistics
Other Germanic languages
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Low SaxonEnglish
possessive constructionEnglish
syntactic alternationEnglish
syntaktische AlternationGerman
Event Type: Workshop
References: Altenberg, Bengt(1982): The genitive vs. the of-construction: A study of syntactic variation in 17th century English. Lund Studies in English 62. Gleerup, Lund. Bernhardt, J. (1903): Zur Syntax der gesprochenen Sprache. Niederdeutsches Jahrbuch 29, 1-25. Langacker, Ronald W. (1999): Grammar and conceptualization. Cognitive Linguistics Research 14. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin/New York. Leech, Geoffrey, Brian Francis and Xunfeng Xu(1994): The use of computer corpora in the textual demonstrability of gradience in linguistic categories. In: Catherine Fuchs and Bernard Victorri(eds.): Continuity in Linguistic Semantics, John Benjamins Publishing, Amsterdam/Philadelphia, 57-76. Rosenbach, Anette(2002): Genitive variation in English. Conceptual factors in synchronic and diachronic studies. Topics in English Linguistics 42. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin/New York. Rosenbach, Anette (Version of December 2003): Comparing animacy versus weight as determinants of grammatical variation in English. To appear in Language. Weise, Oskar(1910): Zu Reuters Syntax. Zeitschrift für deutsche Mundarten, 291-307. Yamamoto, Mutsumi(1999): Animacy and reference. A cognitive approach to corpus linguistics. Studies in Language Companion Series 46. John Benjamins Publishing, Amsterdam/Philadelphia. R DevelopmentCoreTeam (2005): R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria.
Refereed: No


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