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Relative clause marking in historical German


Zurück zum Heft: Linguistische Berichte Heft 258

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In Old High German, relative clauses may be either introduced by d-pronouns or by relative particles (or by a combination of both). In this paper, it is argued that, despite their optionality, only relative particles can be considered to be real relative markers, whilst d-pronouns occupy the first position of relative clauses for information-structural reasons. A corpus-based pilot study reveals the properties of relative particles and explains their distribution. The results of this survey are then extended to other stages of the language and a diachronic scenario is sketched in order to account for the origin, development and eventual loss of relative particles, as well as for the emergence of inherent relative pronouns in German.