Linguistics

Research

Current and past projects funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation:

Studying Variation in Syntax: A Parsed Corpus of Swiss German (2014-2017: SNSF grant no. 146450; 2018: Fondation Boninchi and Fonds général de l'Université de Genève)

Variability is a characteristic feature of natural language that can be found in various guises: variation between languages or between dialects of the same language; variation among speakers of the same dialect/language (inter-speaker variation); variation within a single individual (intra-speaker variation). Whereas all these types of variation have been extensively studied in areas like phonology or the lexicon, work in syntax has almost exclusively considered the first type of variation only. In particular within formal approaches to syntax, inter-speaker and intra-speaker variation have been neglected for a long time. It is only recently that the interest of these phenomena for formal theories of syntax has been recognized and attempts have been made to reconcile theoretical syntax with variationist approaches of the sociolinguistic kind. The aim of this project is to make a contribution to these endeavours by focusing on syntactic variation in a dialect of Swiss German.

The first phase of this long-term project has been dedicated to the creation of an appropriate empirical basis for our investigations: a parsed corpus of Swiss German. Corpora have been playing an increasingly important role in recent work in linguistics. However, for some areas of research, the availability of corpus data is very limited. For example, for non-standard varieties such as Swiss German, which are typically not used in written form, there are generally no substantial corpora that would allow researchers to study their often very interesting properties in detail. Furthermore, existing corpora generally do not take into account the origin, age, sex or social status of the informants, factors that are all important for the study of linguistic variation. Finally, most corpora represent written language and do not allow the study of phonological properties. This project makes a contribution towards filling these gaps through the creation of a parsed corpus that is based on spontaneous speech production by a socially balanced selection of speakers of one dialect of Swiss German. Although our main research interest is in syntactic variation, the corpus will also be a valuable tool for researchers who would like to explore questions related to any other field of linguistics, from phonetics to discourse.

So far, some initial case studies have been carried out on the basis of this corpus of Swiss German. In the next phase of this project, a large range of syntactic and morphosyntactic phenomena will be examined with the aim of gaining a better understanding of the nature of inter- and intra-speaker variation in syntax.

Présentation du projet en français

Publications:

Schönenberger. M. and E. Haeberli. to appear. Ein geparstes und grammatisch annotiertes Korpus schweizerdeutscher Spontansprachdaten. Germanistische Linguistik. pdf

Schönenberger, M. and E. Haeberli. 2018. "Aso du chasch nòcher chasch fasch überaal mitrede" und andere Apokoinus in Spontansprachdaten des Schweizerdeutschen. In V. Janíková et al. (eds.), Sprachen verbinden. Beiträge der 24. Linguistik- und Literaturtage, Brno/Tschechien, 2016, 139-148. Hamburg: Verlag Dr. Kovač. pdf

Schönenberger, M. 2017. Are doubly-filled COMPs governed by prosody in Swiss German? The chameleonic nature of dass 'that'. In E. O. Aboh, E. Haeberli, G. Puskás and M. Schönenberger (eds.), Elements of Comparative Syntax: Theory and Description, 185-220. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. pdf

Schönenberger, M. 2017. Verbstellung in weil-Sätzen des Schweizerdeutschen. In S. Nefedov, L. Grigorieva and B. Bock (eds.), Deutsch als Bindeglied zwischen Inlands- und Auslandsgermanistik. Beiträge zu den 23. GeSuS-Linguistik-Tagen in Sankt Petersburg, 22.-24. Juni 2015, 395-404. Hamburg: Verlag Dr. Kovačpdf

Schönenberger M. 2015. "I’m not sure what kind of ban that FIFA has in mind” and other uncertainties of modern life. In E. Brandner  et al. (eds.), Charting the Landscape of Linguistics: On the Scope of Josef Bayer's Work, Universität Konstanz, Konstanz, 120-126. pdf

Schönenberger, M. and E. Haeberli E. 2015. Studie zur Sprachvariation im Schweizerdeutschen: Erste Ergebnisse. In H. Klausmann (ed.), Alemannentagung 2014: Sprache und Öffentlichkeit, Universität Tübingen, Tübingen, 1-13. pdf

 

Past projects:

The History of English Auxiliaries: Evidence from Adverb Placement (2013-2016; SNSF grant no. 143302)

Revisiting the Loss of Verb Movement in the history of English: Adverb Placement in Middle and Early Modern English (2011-2012; SNSF grant no. 124619)