Revisiting the Berlin German Akkudativ: Evidence for Differential Object Marking
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Berlin German (Berlinisch) is known for the 'confusion' of dative and accusative marking, a phenomenon that is known as the Akkudativ. Previous literature concludes that the dialect has a two case system, only distinguishing nominative and oblique/object case, in contrast to High German (Standard German), which distinguishes four cases: nominative, genitive, dative, and accusative. This thesis systematically investigates the distribution of the dative and accusative forms in the dialect, showing that their distribution is in fact systematic and thus delivering counter-evidence to the claim that dative and accusative merge into one unified object case. Original data from questionnaires and elicitations with speakers from Berlin and the surrounding area shows that case marking in Berlin German should be instead analysed as Differential Object Marking (DOM), following a definiteness/specificity, animacy, and possibly gender distinction. In addition, the data shows that the genitive is not ‘lost’ either, as it is still used in possessives and with genitive-licensing prepositions. The animacy distinction can be understood as a level of added complexity, which is reflected in the syntax of DOM objects and dative-form accusatives in PPs. Berlinisch DOM objects are assigned structural accusative, and they do not compete with indirect objects, as some previous accounts of DOM predict. Instead, the mismatch of structural and morphological case can be accounted for by assuming a realisational model of morphology, in which the extra animacy feature gives rise to the spell-out of the dative form rather than the realisation of the underlying structural accusative. The DOM-determining factors can be mapped on a scale, which additionally allows to model synchronic and diachronic variation.