This article focuses on the realization of relative clauses in colloquial and literary German. Two new corpora representing these different registers are compared according to quantitative, syntactic, semantic, and prosodic aspects. The main goal is to approach important issues related to relative clauses from an empirical perspective: the grammatical function of the relative pronoun (subject, object), extraposition, stacking, (non-)restrictivity, and the form of the relative clause introducer. It could be found that the distinction between restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses is generally reflected in prosody. This stands in contrast to previous work (Schaffranietz 1999; Birkner 2008; Kaland & van Heuven 2010), which did not find much difference between the two types. The corpus data also suggest that the restrictive/non-restrictive distinction both has a referential (semantic) and a conceptual (discourse-pragmatic) side (cf. Fabricius-Hansen 2009), which can be independent. As for stacking, it is argued that all the consecutive relative clauses found in the corpora are instances of asyndetic conjunction. This conflicts with the assumption that stacking involves hierarchical layering, at least in case of multiple restrictive relative clauses (McCawley 1998).
The adequate description of word stress is still a matter of discussion in phonological research. There are two types of approaches to explain German word stress: quantity-sensitive approaches (e.g., Giegerich 1985), on the one hand, claim that stress depends on syllable weight (the inherent structure of a syllable), quantity-insensitive approaches (e.g., Wiese 2000), on the other hand, claim that German word stress falls on a specific position in a word. There are some studies on the assignment of word stress by (language impaired) native speakers of German. Janßen (2003) found proof for the quantity-sensitive approach to German when the participants were urged to read out pseudowords. The present experiment is on perception: we presented spoken three syllable pseudowords to healthy participants and instructed them to: (a) remember as many items as they could (memory task), and (b) repeat the words (repetition task). Since regular word stress is assumed to make use of fewer cognitive resources than irregular word stress we expected participants to prefer one specific type of word stress in the memory task as well as in the repetition task. We found a preference for pseudowords stressed on the antepenultima (and penultima), supporting neither quantity-sensitive nor quantity-insensitive approaches, but an alternative approach connecting both approaches.
Due to their high political impact, Gender Studies as an academic discipline are the subject of a vivid discourse within Germany. This discourse was further inflamed by a publication of the politically involved Heinrich-Böll-Foundation named Gender, Wissenschaftlichkeit und Ideologie (Frey et al. 2013). The contents of this publication have been discussed intensively in numerous media like internet forums, blogs and the daily press (e.g. comments and interviews). Within this discourse, the main focus lies on the dispute on the terms Ideologie and Wissenschaftlichkeit (ideology and scientific values) regarding the field of Gender Studies and their critics. First and foremost, this dispute is a consequence of the close link between scientific approaches and political claims, like the demand for a gender sensitive use of language. This demand was recently realized through the gender sensitive redraft of the German Straßenverkehrsordnung (StVO; road traffic act).
The discourse on scientific value and ideology is rather based on mutual recriminations than on rational debates on the particular subject. A linguistic discourse analysis has been used to illustrate that the discussion is far from leading to constructive synergies, since political ideas clash with scientific claims. As a consequence, all parties involved react by means of severe criticism. Therefore, the redraft of the StVO is a good example for a politically motivated action, since the underlying argumentation for a gender sensitive reform shows several deficits which is demonstrated by a linguistic analysis.
In the course of a discussion about if and how gender sensitive approaches can be adequately realized, we declare ourselves in favour of a constructive exchange based on a clear focus on the specific scientific field without political demands in the forefront of scientific results.
Beiträge aus Forschung und Anwendung
- Tim Hirschberg, Carolin Reinert, Anna Roth & Caroline Féry: Relative Clauses in Colloquial and Literary German: A Contrastive Corpus-Based Study
- Lydia Riedl, Richard Wiese, Volker Dellwo & Annika Wittig: Die Leistung im Memorieren und Nachsprechen von Pseudowörtern: Eine Untersuchung zum Wortakzent im Deutschen
- Lars Bülow & Matthias Herz: Semantische Kämpfe um Wissenschaftlichkeit und Ideologie: Gender Studies, ihre Gegner/innen und die Konsequenzen für den Sprachgebrauch und das Sprachsystem
- Sonja Zeman: Schmuck, Mirjam (2013): Relevanzgesteuerter verbalmorphologischer Umbau. Eine kontrastive Untersuchung zum Deutschen, Niederländischen und Schwedischen