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C2 - Winners and Losers of morphosyntactic language change

Morphosyntactic language change leads to changes in the formal expressions of linguistic categories, for example, mood, tense, gender, number. One possible development is the radical reduction of or the complete loss of the morphological expression of such categories (e.g., the ongoing reduction of the preterite, genitive or conjunctive forms in German). The loss of synthetic forms in morphology is often accompanied by a structural renovation of the language system using analytic (=”winning”) constructions. Dissertation projects in C2 focus on the dynamics of the linguistic system by investigating such winners and losers of language change.

Dissertation projects in C2 seek to attract students with an interest in linguistic typology, dialectology and/or historical linguistics. Methodologically, projects can apply and combine approaches from corpus linguistics, dialectology, and/or contrastive, typological, as well as historical comparisons to the investigation of morphosyntactic language change.

possible topics include:

  • Dynamics of mood marking in the varieties of German (e.g., Conjunctive).
  • Change in participant marking, from case to prepositional phrases.
  • Loss of the synthetic causative in German (Protogermanic -jan) and the development of analytic alternatives (e.g., lassen + Infinitive).