Christa Dürscheid & Nadio Giger: Variation in the case system of German – linguistic analysis and optimality theory 167
Christa Dürscheid & Nadio Giger (Zürich) Variation in the case system of German – linguistic analysis and optimality theory alle grammatischen ausnahmen scheinen mir nachzügler alter regeln, die noch hier und da zucken, oder vorboten neuer regeln, die über kurz oder lang einbrechen werden.1 1. Preliminary remarks This paper focuses on different kinds of case variation and uses optimality the- ory (abbreviated as OT) to analyze the phenomena in question. Thus, the realms of both sociolinguistics and grammar are entered and combined. A model of the different varieties of German as well as a brief overview of the German case system are presented in section 2. In section 3, we introduce a classification of different types of variation by focussing on case phenomena. Then, in section 4, a concept of OT is suggested that theoretically describes the relationship be- tween the grammatical features and the distribution of variants within the varie- ties of a language. This OT concept is also used in section 5 for the analysis of case variation in dative plural NPs in different varieties of German. Finally, we plead for the combination of OT and a system linguistic presentation to be a fruitful approach that has to be pursued further. As to the different varieties of standard German, it is assumed that the Stan- dardsprache (‘standard language’) is the codified standard language as it is writ- ten down in grammars and dictionaries. Within this paper, it will be referred to as codified standard German. The codices...
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