Menu
Home
Log in / Register
 
Home arrow Language & Literature arrow Bilingualism and Deafness: On Language Contact in the Bilingual Acquisition of Sign Language and Written Language
Source

German: a grammatical sketch

As we mentioned previously, the grammatical properties of German have been studied within the generative framework for many years. With respect to the structural characteristics of the language, scholars have been confronted with the challenge of accounting for the asymmetry that characterises word order in main and embedded clauses. In the following, we briefly summarise the main characteristics of the language at the levels of word order and morphosyntax before we turn to a structural account of German sentence structure.

Word order

In German, main and embedded clauses differ with regard to the placement of the finite verb: it obligatorily appears in second position in main clauses (examples

  • (378) -(380)), but appears sentence-finally in complementiser introduced embedded clauses (examples (383H384)).* [1] The restriction regarding the placement of the finite verb in the second position in declarative main clauses, commonly referred to as the V2 constraint, holds of all Germanic languages except English. The preverbal position in main declarative clauses is not restricted to subjects, as is illustrated in examples (378)-(380) in Table 4.1. Subjects (378) and non-subjects as, for example, adverbs (379) or direct objects (380) may appear in the preverbal position. Another major characteristic of German word order is that non-finite elements of the verbal complex, such as separable prefixes (378), participles
  • (379) , and infinitives (380) obligatorily appear in sentence-final position. Hence, in sentences with periphrastic verb constructions or separable verbs, adverbs, negators and verb complements appear inside the so-called verb bracket.

Table 4.1: Verb second (V2) in German main declarative clauses.*

(378)

Die Frau the woman

setzt

puts

den

the

Hut

hat

nicht

not

auf.

on

(379)

Gestern

yesterday

hat

has

die

the

Frau

woman

den

the

Hut

hat

nicht

not

aufgesetzt.

on-put

(380)

Den Hut the hat

kann

can

die

the

Frau

woman

nicht

not

aufsetzen.

on-put

*VE=verb-end, V+fin=finite verb form, V-fin=non-finite verb form.

Note that verbs appear in sentence-initial position in some constructions, such as yes/no questions (381) or imperative constructions (382). The sequences in (381) and (382) illustrate also that the subject appears post-verbally in verb-initial sequences. German, unlike other (so-called pro-drop) languages (these can be

spoken languages, such as Italian or Spanish, or sign languages, like DGS, see section 3.1), does not allow empty subjects.

In complementer introduced embedded clauses finite verbs obligatorily appear in sentence final position (cf. examples (383)-(384) in Table 4.2).

Table 4.2: Verb final in German complementiser embedded clauses.

Complementer

VE

(383) (ich weif), (I know)

dass

that

die

the

Frau

woman

den Hut the hat

nicht

not

aufgesetzt

on-put

hat

has

(384) er weifi nicht, he knows not

ob

whether

die

the

Frau

woman

den

the

Hut

hat

aufsetzt

puts-on

Notice, however, that verbs do not appear in the final position in unintroduced embedded clauses, compare (385).

  • [1] We will disregard here the exceptions to this generalisation concerning verb placement andthe main/embedded clause dichotomy. For a more detailed discussion see Plaza-Pust (2000).
 
Source
Found a mistake? Please highlight the word and press Shift + Enter  
< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >
 
Subjects
Accounting
Business & Finance
Communication
Computer Science
Economics
Education
Engineering
Environment
Geography
Health
History
Language & Literature
Law
Management
Marketing
Mathematics
Political science
Philosophy
Psychology
Religion
Sociology
Travel