This article deals mainly with the distribution and function of the infinitival marker in Standard German and in Alemannic, a dialect spoken in Southern Germany.* At first sight both form and distribution differ in these two variants to a great extent. The most important difference is that Alemannic generally lacks the infinitival marker zu (to in English, te in Dutch) in the environments where it occurs in SG. Instead, bare infinitives are used to a much greater extent than in SG.
A detailed comparison shows how these Alemannic data can shed some new light on SG infinitival constructions — which are notoriously hard to analyze, especially the use of zu. It will turn out that zu plays hardly any syntactic role in restructuring contexts and is thus best accounted for in the word formation component rather than in the syntax. Another important issue to be discussed is extraposition. As will be shown below, extraposition is a much more widely used option in Alemannic than in SG — nevertheless, the Alemannic constructions show mono-clausal, i.e. coherent properties. I will argue that extraposition should not be taken as an indication for a bi-clausal structure — as it is done traditionally — but rather that the preferred intraposed order in SG should be analyzed in terms of a PF “flip-operation”. The attested variation between SG and Alemannic will thus turn out to be merely variation on the surface. But there are constructions where both variants differ more profoundly, namely in the context of propositional verbs. These differences will be traced back to the existence of a second kind of zu — existing only in SG — that can indeed license a full CP.
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