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Irregular Morphology in Language Islands

Project name
Cooperation partners
Staff at Chair
Project description



Project name:

“Regularity and Irregularity in the Case Morphology of German Language Island Varieties (Russia, Brazil): Intralingual, Interlingual and Typological Convergence”


Partial project 1 “Irregular Morphology”


Cooperation partners:

Elke Ronneberger-Sibold (Catholic Univesity Eichstätt Ingolstadt):

“Intended Irregularity as a Problem-Solving Strategy. Extra-Grammatical Morphology between Universality and Monolingualism”


Staff at Chair:

Peter Rosenberg (Project leader Frankfurt Oder),

MA Sahra Damus (Project research associate),

Dipl.-Kulturw. Thomas Strobel , M.A. (Project research associate)

Yves Tauschwitz (Student Assistant)

Kristina Feller (Student Assistant)

Sarah Laudien (Student Assistant)

Lydia Thieme (Student Assistant)


Project description:

The object of the project is the description of the development processes of irregular case morphology in German language island varieties. Case morphology will be examined using speech recordings made in German speech islands in Brazil and Russia, especially concerning pronouns in respect of their functionality, their distribution and their presence in speakers of various base varieties and of various ages. The resistance of irregular morphology in disintegrating speech islands, described once by the Russian dialectologist Viktor Schirmunski (1930) as a “large scale language-historical experiment” and a “linguistic laboratory” is of special interest. Laboratory-type results can be gained from the processes of decline of morphological reduction, decline of rules, (interlingual or intralingual) convergence and language change. A selective resistance of irregular case morphology is assumed which, unlike the usual direction of development of a decline in markedness, displays structural peculiarities, whereas features of decline in regular morphology are accelerated under the pressure of language change. There are signs of a “typical” sequence of decline (regularization – simplification – decline [with substitution]). The aim of this research project is the systematic analysis of irregular morphology in German language islands, a differentiated description of their functionality and distribution, their socio-linguistic contextual conditions and the carrying out of a survey of development processes both in “relative time” (generational comparison) and in real time (longitudinal repeated survey after 10 years). Comparisons with other German language islands are also planned.



Research Report