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Saturday, October 12 • 11:45am - 12:10pm
Kerschen et al.: Another non-null subject language: Variable subject expression in German

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Another non-null subject language: Variable subject expression in German

Despite the fact that Standard German is typologically classified as a non-null-subject language, variation in subject expression (SE) in German is well documented historically and in modern varieties. Following previous variationist accounts of other languages (e.g., Torres Cacoullos & Travis 2019; Leroux & Jarmasz 2006), our study offers a new approach to SE in colloquial, spoken Standard German by using naturalistic speech data.

A corpus of 89,209 words produced by 32 native speakers of German yielded 194 tokens of finite declarative clauses containing unexpressed subjects with a specific human referent, which we compared to a principled sample of 309 tokens with overt pronominal subjects produced by the same speakers.

Using stepwise logistic regression analysis, we found that three factors were significant predictors of SE: presence of preverbal material, grammatical person/number, and verb class. Our results show that German patterns with Spanish, English, and French regarding the constraints on SE.

avatar for Katherine Kerschen

Katherine Kerschen

PhD Student, Pennsylvania State University

Maike Rocker

The Pennsylvania State University

M. Cole Callen

Pennsylvania State University

Saturday October 12, 2019 11:45am - 12:10pm PDT
EMU Crater Lake S
  T: Grammatical variation
  • Session type Talk
  • Chair: Sali Tagliamonte