Case loss in Texas German: The influence of semantic and pragmatic factors

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Based on a comparison of data from Gilbert (1972) and data collected by the Texas German Dialect Project between 2001–2006 I demonstrate that dative case marking in Texas German has significantly declined over the past 40 years. Applying Trudgill’s (2004) model of new-dialect formation to the data I argue that the reduction in dative case is best explained in terms of internal factors, that is, leveling processes taking place in dialect contact situations. I propose that the replacement of the dative by the accusative is triggered by at least three interlaced factors: similarity in phonological form, movement towards unmarked forms (from lexical to structural case), and similarity in semantic contexts.


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