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Abstract

While Georg Wenker’s questionnaire-based collection of dialect data in the 1880s has laid the foundation for pioneering work in German dialectology, most notably his Linguistic Atlas of the German Empire (regionalsprache.de), it is often overlooked that dialects of minority languages in then German territory were included in Wenker’s data as well (Wenker 2013). One example are the South Jutlandic dialects of Danish that were spoken in the region of Schleswig (then part of Prussia, today divided between Denmark and Germany), documented in almost 300 questionnaires that are being transcribed in an ongoing digitization project at Kiel University. This paper addresses the quality and validity of Wenker’s Danish data from a language contact perspective. In traditional Danish dialectology, the data scarcely received attention, and the few papers that discussed it at all were unanimously negative (Ringgaard 1964, Bjerrum 1976): The translating tasks employed by Wenker triggered unidiomatic utterances, the fact that instructions and stimuli were in German led to skewed results, and the inconsistent rendering of Danish utterances by lay transcribers, often using German orthography, made the data almost illegible, particularly regarding the phonological and morphological subtleties that traditional dialectology focuses on. While much of this criticism remains relevant, the Danish data has at the same time proven better than its reputation. Recent work has shown that some features that were discarded as artefacts of Wenker’s methodological approach in earlier work can actually be validated using corpus data from the same dialects (Höder & Winter forthc.). In addition, a range of morphosyntactic features could also be shown to reflect authentic language usage to a large extent, in particular features that result from convergence between German and Danish dialects in a region characterized by long-term language contact (Fredsted 2009, Höder 2016). Especially for the now extinct and under-documented southernmost dialects, Wenker’s material is thus a more valuable documentary resource than previously assumed. This contribution uses Wenker’s material to investigate and map the areal distribution of an exemplary set of eight (morpho-)syntactic features in Wenker’s Danish dialect data as compared to extant corpus data and dialect grammars, focusing on contact-related features.
Rediscovering not-so-bad data:
a language contact perspective on
Wenker’s Danish material
Steffen Höder (Kiel)
Wenker’s material
Wenker’s Linguistic Atlas of the German Empire
massive questionnaire-based data collection between 1876 and 1887
data from (most) schools in then German territory
later additions from German-speaking areas outside the German Empire
total: 57,613 questionnaires
translation tasks
source text: (about) 40 sentences in Standard German
local translators
local transcribers
digitized at regionalsprache.de
still a major resource in German dialect geography
2
Wenker’s Danish material
Dialect data in minority languages
Wenker’s material also covers minority languages [Wenker 2013 [1889]]
Slavic and Baltic languages, French, Hungarian, Dutch, Frisian, Yiddish
287 Danish questionnaires from the northernmost part of the German
Empire (~ almost 11,480 sentences)
South Jutlandic dialects (sønderjysk)
ongoing transliteration project at Kiel University
3
Wenker’s Danish material
4
northern part of the
Prussian province
of Schleswig-
Holstein (until 1920)
Wenker’s Danish material
5
former Duchy of Schleswig (part of
the Kingdom of Denmark until 1864)
partitioned between
Denmark and Germany (in 1920)
Wenker’s Danish material
6
Districts Kreise
Hadersleben
Haderslev
Tondern
Tønder
Apenrade
Aabenraa
Sonderburg
Sønderborg
Flensburg
Flensborg
Husum
Husum
Wenker’s Danish material
The Danish dialectological view
Wenker’s data scarcely received attention
[e.g. Ringgaard 1964, Bjerrum 1976]
unanimously negative assessment of the quality
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 20197
Wenker’s Danish material
Bad data? [e.g. Ringgaard 1964: 2931]
sometimes weirdly context-free sentences
S33 Sein Bruder will sich zwei schöne neue Häuser in eurem Garten bauen.
‘His brother wants to build himself two beautiful new houses in your garden’
stimuli aiming at typical features of German dialects
less valuable for other languages
uncontrollable lay transcription
partly using German orthography
Q46591 Norstedt Nordsted
priming effects, deficient dialect competence
ungrammatical and unidiomatic utterances
8
Sin Broer wil büg ſick too Huus i irm Gaar.
<ü> = [y] <ir> = [iə̯]
Wenker’s Danish material
Bad data? [e.g. Bjerrum 1976: 3334]
criticism based on linguist’s expectation
based on dialectal competence or otherwise
Q46594 Sollwitt Solved
S33 Ven har tauen med min Karre mit Kjör.
who has taken with my basket with meat
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 20199
med
‘should’ be here
Rediscovering not-so-bad data
New perspective: contact and areal linguistics
language contact zone [Fredsted 2009, Höder 2016a, 2019]
long-term intense contact since prehistoric times
cross-linguistic and cross-varietal influence
e.g. well-known arealisms [e.g. Höder 2016ab]
countless lexical innovations (most notably moin/mojn ‘hello’)
AND-infinitive
SHALL-future
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201910
Rediscovering not-so-bad data
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201911
language shift
~2000: political border
~1880: Schleswigsche Geest Slesvigsk gest
~1830: Angeln Angel
~1780: Schwansen Svans
Rediscovering not-so-bad data
New perspective: contact and areal linguistics
recent studies [Fleischer 2017, Höder & Winter forthc.]
analysis of morpho-syntactic features from a contact perspective
for now extinct and under-documented southernmost dialects
validation
the same features can be found in corpus material
contact-linguistic explanation
results of long-term contact rather than methodological artefacts
reassessment
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201912
Assessment measures
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201913
Non
-authentic data Authentic data
priming effects no priming effects
high degree of ‘Germanness
= structural isomorphism with the
German stimulus
low degree of ‘Germanness
low degree of ‘Danishness
= conformity to expectations about
Danish dialect grammar
high degree of ‘Danishness
no areal differentiation areal differentiation
possibly German features more
frequent in the southwest
(= the areas more exposed to
German influence)
Germanness/Danishness scores
average proportion of variant(s)
values between 0 and 1
Feature catalogue
#
feature
S
1
V
fin in subordinate clauses
3, 20a, 24
2
verbal bracket
2a
perfect tense
4, 5, 9a, 9b, 15a, 15b, 19, 20b, 25
2b
resultative
aspect
8, 37
2c
modal auxiliary
9c, 10, 15c, 17, 22, 31, 33
3
motion verb auxiliary
selection
4,
40
4
possessive
predicational vocative
11
5
reflexive possessives
5a
female reflexive
hin(s)
9
5b
male non
-reflexive sin
33
6
non
-canonical ‘dative’ arguments
6a
external possessor
8
6b
maleficiary
19
7
negated pronouns
7a
pragmatic marker
32
7b
negation proper
39
8
diminutive suffixes
26, 32
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201914
Feature catalogue
#
feature
S
1
V
fin in subordinate clauses
3, 20a, 24
2
verbal bracket
2a
perfect tense
4, 5, 9a, 9b, 15a, 15b, 19, 20b, 25
2b
resultative
aspect
8, 37
2c
modal auxiliary
9c, 10, 15c, 17, 22, 31, 33
3
motion verb auxiliary
selection
4,
40
4
possessive
predicational vocative
11
5
reflexive possessives
5a
female reflexive
hin(s)
9
5b
male non
-reflexive sin
33
6
non
-canonical ‘dative’ arguments
6a
external possessor
8
6b
maleficiary
19
7
negated pronouns
7a
pragmatic marker
32
7b
negation proper
39
8
diminutive suffixes
26, 32
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201915
Feature catalogue
#
feature
S
1
V
fin in subordinate clauses
3, 20a, 24
2
verbal bracket
2b
resultative
aspect
8, 37
4
possessive
predicational vocative
11
5
reflexive possessives
5b
male non
-reflexive sin
33
6
non
-canonical ‘dative’ arguments
6a
external possessor
8
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201916
#
feature
S
1
V
fin in subordinate clauses
3, 20a, 24
2
verbal bracket
2b
resultative
aspect
8, 37
4
possessive
predicational vocative
11
5
reflexive possessives
5b
male non
-reflexive sin
33
6
non
-canonical ‘dative’ arguments
6a
external possessor
8
Feature catalogue
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201917
Danish ≠ German
word order prone to priming effects
also prone to areal convergence in intense language contact scenarios
[e.g. Nettle 1999: 138]
#1: Vfin in subordinate clauses
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201918
S24:
‘When we
came back last night, …’
Danish:
verb-late (= V2 in most cases, V3 after certain adverbials)
Da vi
kom tilbage i går aftes, ... Da vi i går aftes kom tilbage, ...
Vfin ADV ADV Vfin
German
: verb-final
Als wir gestern Abend zurück
kamen, …
Vfin
Q
46868 Traasbüll Tråsbøl Q46914 Sophiental Sofiedal
Da vi
kom hjem Ejauns, Da vi iga͞ ar Avten kom teba͞ g,
Vfin ADV ADV Vfin
#1: Vfin in subordinate clauses
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201919
Danishness
.98
Germanness
.29
no VF attested
#2b: Verbal bracket/resultative aspect
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201920
S37:
‘The farmers
had brought five oxen, nine cows and twelve sheep to the village’
Danish:
no verbal bracket
B
ønderne havde taget fem stude til byen
Vfin Vinfin
German:
verbal bracket
Die Bauern
hatten fünf Ochsen und neun Kühe
Vfin
und zwölf Schäfchen vor das Dorf
gebracht
Vinfin
known option in South
Jutlandic:
verbal bracket in resultative contexts
[e.g. Bjerrum 19301931: 2021]
Q
46705 Tinningstedt Tinningsted
Ä́
Büinnä́́ihai femm Stuur a nii ä́iatáól foä́r fa ä́brungen []
Vfin Vinfin
#2b: Verbal bracket/resultative aspect
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201921
Danishness
.96
Germanness
.04
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
Hus Tond ApenFlens Sond total
bracket
no bracket
other
** (p=.007)
Feature catalogue
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201922
#
feature
S
1
V
fin in subordinate clauses
3, 20a, 24
2
verbal bracket
2b
resultative
aspect
8, 37
4
possessive
predicational vocative
11
5
reflexive possessives
5b
male non
-reflexive sin
33
6
non
-canonical ‘dative’ arguments
6a
external possessor
8
#5b: male non-reflexive sin
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201923
S33:
His brother wants to build himself two beautiful new houses in your garden
Danish:
non-reflexive male possessive (as opposed to reflexive sin)
Hans
bror vill bygge
German:
masculine possessive (no reflexivity distinction)
Sein
Bruder will … bauen
Jutlandic
: no reflexivity distinction
use of either
hans or (in southernmost dialects) sin in all male contexts
[e.g. Jul Nielsen 1986:
7176, Jensen 2009]
Q46591
Norstedt Nordsted
Sin
Broer wil büg
cognates
#5b: male non-reflexive sin
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201924
hans
sin
other
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
Hus Tond ApenFlens Sond total
sin
hans
other
#5b: male non-reflexive sin
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201925
**** (p<.00001)
Germanness
.67 (
Husum/Tondern)
.38 (
Apenrade/Flensburg)
.07
(Sonderburg)
.44 (total)
** (p=.002) *** (p<.001)
Danishness
.31 (
Husum/Tondern)
.60 (
Apenrade/Flensburg)
.88
(Sonderburg)
.54 (total)
Feature catalogue
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201926
#
feature
S
1
V
fin in subordinate clauses
3, 20a, 24
2
verbal bracket
2b
resultative
aspect
8, 37
4
possessive
predicational vocative
11
5
reflexive possessives
5b
male non
-reflexive sin
33
6
non
-canonical ‘dative’ arguments
6a
external possessor
8
#4: possessive predicational vocative
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201927
S11:
Im going to hit you around the ears with a wooden spoon, you monkey!
Danish:
possessive pronouns
din abe
German:
personal pronouns
du Affe
Q
46838 Bülderup Bylderup Q46841 Bjolderup Bjolderup
din Aef Do Affekat
#4: possessive predicational vocative
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201928
possessive pronoun
personal pronoun
other
#4: possessive predicational vocative
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201929
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
140
Hus Tond ApenFlens Sond total
poss
pers
* (p=.047)
point-biserial correlation
POSS with longitude
r= .164
p= .0283 *
Danishness
.66
Germanness
.33
Feature catalogue
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201930
#
feature
S
1
V
fin in subordinate clauses
3, 20a, 24
2
verbal bracket
2b
resultative
aspect
8, 37
4
possessive
predicational vocative
11
5
reflexive possessives
5b
male non
-reflexive sin
33
6
non
-canonical ‘dative’ arguments
6a
external possessor
8
#6a: ‘dative’ external possessor
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201931
S11:
My feet hurt very much.
Danish:
possessive form
Mine
fødder gør meget ondt, …
German:
dative personal pronoun outside NP
Die Füße tun
mir sehr weh,
Q
47006 List List Q46882 Atzerballigholz Asserballeskov
E
Födder gör me wee, … Min’ Förre gø usſelt vi꞊e
Europeanism: well-attested in core SAE languages (e.g. Continental
West Germanic), less so in the periphery (e.g. Nordic)
[Haspelmath 1999, 2001, König 2001; cf. Höder 2016a]
#6a: ‘dative’ external possessor
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201932
no DAT.EXT.POSS
DAT.EXT.POSS
other
#6a: ‘dative’ external possessor
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201933
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
Hus Tond ApenFlens Sond total
dat. ext. poss.
no dat. ext. poss.
other
* (p=.016)
point-biserial correlation
DAT.EXT.POSS with latitude
r= .258
p= .0005 ***
Danishness
.53
Germanness
.45
Feature catalogue
#
feature
G
erman
-
ness
D
anish-
ness
Areal tendencies
1
V
fin in subordinate clauses
.29
.98
no
2
verbal bracket
2b
resultative
aspect
.04
.96
minimal
4
possessive
predicational vocative
.33
.66
G
higher in west
5
reflexive possessives
5b
male non
-reflexive sin
.44
.54
G
higher in southwest
6
non
-canonical ‘dative’ arguments
6a
external possessor
.45
.53
G
higher in south
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201934
Feature catalogue
#
feature
G
erman
-
ness
D
anish-
ness
Areal tendencies
1
V
fin in subordinate clauses
.29
.98
no
2
verbal bracket
2b
resultative
aspect
.04
.96
minimal
4
possessive
predicational vocative
.33
.66
G
higher in west
5
reflexive possessives
5b
male non
-reflexive sin
.44
.54
G
higher in southwest
6
non
-canonical ‘dative’ arguments
6a
external possessor
.45
.53
G
higher in south
6b
maleficiary
.28
.70
no
clear tendency
7
negated pronouns
7b
negation proper
.35
.83
G
higher in southwest
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201935
Conclusion
Wenker’s Danish data is way better than its reputation.
In general:
No indication for large-scale priming effects or lack of dialect competence.
Data reflects authentic dialectal grammar.
(for the morphosyntactic features included in this study)
Relatively high Danishness scores, low Germanness scores.
Practically zero non-Danishness for word-order features.
Areal differentiation.
Areal distribution
Data show contact influence for some morphosyntactic features in
the southwest, as expected.
Typological transition phenomena: dative external possessors.
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201936
Thank you for your attention.
Danke für Ihre Aufmerksamkeit.
Tak for jeres opmærksomhed.
Bedankt voor uw andacht.
Steffen Höder
s.hoeder@isfas.uni-kiel.de
steffenhoeder.de
ICLaVE 10 | Leeuwarden, 2628 June 201938
[Jul Nielsen 1986: 96, map 17]
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