Chapter published in:Germanic Genitives
Edited by Tanja Ackermann, Horst J. Simon and Christian Zimmer
[Studies in Language Companion Series 193] 2018
► pp. 65–89
On the motivation of genitive‑s omission in Contemporary German
In Contemporary German strong, masculine and neuter nouns in genitive phrases either take a suffix (‑s or -es) or remain uninflected for case (e.g. Nutzung d-es Internet‑s vs. Nutzung d-es Internet-Ø, ‘use of the-gen.sg internet-gen.sg/Ø’). This paper is concerned with a corpus-based description of this variation on the basis of which an explanation of the phenomenon is given. Using data taken from synchronic and diachronic corpora ( DECOW2012 and Deutsches Textarchiv) and psycholinguistic evidence from a self-paced reading task it is shown that there is a functional motivation for the fact that a well-delimited group of nouns (i.e. peripheral nouns, such as loan words, abbreviations and proper names) tend to remain uninflected for case whilst prototypical German nouns are almost always inflected for genitive case. This variation results from the competition between two motivations: syntactic agreement on the one hand and a hitherto not very well described factor called morphological schema constancy on the other hand. The latter refers to the maintenance of word form stability e.g. through the avoidance of inflectional suffixes. However, these motivations are weighted differently depending on the nature of the noun in question: Since syntactic agreement is still important for the grammatical system, prototypical nouns are unaffected by ‑s omission. Thus, in general, the genitive singular resists the general German(ic) tendency towards a reduction of nominal case markers so far.
Published online: 26 April 2018
Ackermann, Tanja & Zimmer, Christian
Bortz, Jürgen & Schuster, Christof
Bubenhofer, Noah, Hansen-Morath, Sandra & Konopka, Marek
Dammel, Antje & Gillmann, Melitta
Dressler, Wolfgang U., Mayerthaler, Willi, Panagl, Oswald & Wurzel, Wolfgang Ullrich
Eichinger, Ludwig M.
Gottsched, Johann Christoph
Kern, Peter Christoph & Zutt, Herta
Nübling, Damaris, Fabian Fahlbusch & Rita Heuser
1993 Syntactic relations. In Syntax: Ein internationales Handbuch zeitgenössischer Forschung/An International Handbook of Contemporary Research [Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft/Handbooks of Linguistics and Communication Science 9/1], Joachim Jacobs, Arnim von Stechow, Wolfgang Sternefeld & Theo Vennemann (eds), 686–705. Berlin: De Gruyter.
In press. Prototype-driven alternations: The case of German weak nouns. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory.
Schäfer, Roland & Bildhauer, Felix
Schottel, Justus Georg
Scott, Alan K.
Wegera, Klaus-Peter & Sandra Waldenberger
Wurzel, Wolfgang Ullrich
In press. Die Markierung des Genitiv(s). Empirie und theoretische Implikationen von morphologischer Variation [Reihe Germanistische Linguistik]. Berlin: De Gruyter
Cited by other publications
This list is based on CrossRef data as of 01 january 2021. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.