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Ordering discontinuous varvec{varphi }-feature agree: verbal -s in North Eastern English

North Eastern English differs from Standard English with respect to agreement: According to the Northern Subject Rule, 3sg agreement marking (verbal -s) occurs on verbs in clauses with non-3sg subjects provided that they are not personal pronouns adjacent to the verb. However, data from the Diachronic Electronic Corpus of Tyneside English shows that verbal -s also does not occur with non-adjacent personal pronouns subjects in contemporary North Eastern English. I argue that verbal -s with non-pronominal non-3sg subjects follows from two conceptual assumptions: firstly, the requirement to order feature-driven elementary operations and secondly, splitting up upvarphi -Agree into two separate operations (i.e., person and number Agree). The difference in agreement between North Eastern English and Standard English stems from the different ordering of features on T. In Standard English, person and number probes are ordered before the structure building feature, which triggers movement. In the North Eastern English order, however, the structure-building feature intervenes between the two probe features. The full DP/pronoun split is explained by different kinds of movement: In the case of a full DP, subject movement to Spec/TP bleeds number agreement and verbal -s emerges, while pronominal subjects remain in the c-command domain of T because they head-move to T.

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Phrasal Proper Names in German and Norwegian

This paper discusses the morpho-syntax of phrasal proper names like Deutsche Bahn ‘German Railway’ and Norske Skog ‘Norwegian Forest’ in German and Norwegian. As regards determiner elements, there are three types of phrasal proper names in German: some proper names do not have a definite article, some do, and yet others exhibit a possessive. Depending on the syntactic context, the first two types pattern the same as regards the presence or absence of the article but contrast with the third, where the possessive is always present. It is proposed that proper names in German vary in their structure as regards the presence of the DP-level: unlike articles, possessives have a referential marker, and a DP is obligatorily projected with the latter element. Norwegian is different. While proper names in Norwegian also vary in the presence or absence of determiners, there is no flexibility—determiners are always present or always absent, independent of the syntactic context. It is proposed that unlike in German, the DP-level in Norwegian is always present. As argued by Roehrs (Glossa J Gen Linguist, 5(1):1–38, 2020, https://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.1267), phrasal proper names involve a regular syntactic derivation. Given that elements of regular DPs are sensitive to definiteness in Norwegian, it is proposed that Norwegian proper names involve an obligatory definiteness feature. As this feature surfaces in the DP-level, the latter must be present in that language in all instances. Besides this cross-linguistic difference, we document that phrasal PN may show features of recursivity evidenced most clearly in Norwegian.

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Open syllable lengthening and diphthongisation in Upper Middle High German: evidence from verse

Despite a long history of scholarly interest, the relative chronologies (and even origins) of open syllable lengthening (OSL) and the diphthongisation of the Middle High German (MHG) high vowels remain unclear. This paper, drawing on orthographic evidence from a thirteenth-century Parzival MS, St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. 857, provides new insights into these two key changes. The changes either maintained or increased the quantity of stressed vowels, leading to a net increase in the quantity of stressed syllables in MHG. Diphthongisation simply altered the segmental quality of already long monophthongs; only OSL increased the quantity of the vowels it affected. This paper argues that OSL was not a feature of the South Bavarian dialect of Cod. 857’s Hand III, although his dialect had certainly undergone diphthongisation. It is difficult to reconcile this picture with claims by Penzl, Kranzmayer and Wiesinger that OSL was present throughout the Bavarian dialect area by 1200. This paper challenges claims that diphthongisation was triggered by OSL via a phonological push-chain, maintaining that the two changes were independent. It is furthermore suggested that the scribe is uninterested in marking vocalic quantity, which—in the absence of OSL—was still consistent across inflexional paradigms. Instead, he uses the circumflex “length marker” to indicate diphthongal quality. The scribes’ dialect thus represents a key turning point: diphthongisation was well progressed, but OSL had yet to occur.

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Word-order variation and coherence in German infinitival complementation

This study provides a synthesis of corpus-based and experimental investigations of word-order preferences in German infinitival complementation. We carried out a systematic analysis of present-day German corpora to establish frequency distributions of different word-order options: extraposition, intraposition, and ‘third construction’. We then examined, firstly, whether and to what extent corpus frequencies and processing economy constraints can predict the acceptability of these three word-order variants, and whether subject raising and subject control verbs form clearly distinguishable subclasses of infinitive-embedding verbs in terms of their word-order behaviour. Secondly, our study looks into the issue of coherence by comparing acceptability ratings for monoclausal coherent and biclausal incoherent construals of intraposed infinitives, and by examining whether a biclausal incoherent analysis gives rise to local and/or global processing difficulty. Taken together, our results revealed that (i) whilst the extraposition pattern consistently wins out over all other word-order variants for control verbs, neither frequency nor processing-based approaches to word-order variation can account for the acceptability of low-frequency variants, (ii) there is considerable verb-specific variation regarding word-order preferences both between and within the two sets of raising and control verbs under investigation, and (iii) although monoclausal coherent intraposition is rated above biclausal incoherent intraposition, the latter is not any more difficult to process than the former. Our findings indicate that frequency of occurrence and processing-related constraints interact with idiosyncratic lexical properties of individual verbs in determining German speakers’ structural preferences.

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