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Jennifer Kohls, MA (Ms)

Jennifer Kohls

Phone +49 211 81-12454
Fax +49 211 81-03170 (central fax, please include name of addressee)
Email jennifer.kohls@uni-duesseldorf.de



SToRE Membership

SToRE member since 01 Oct 2012

1. advisor: Prof. Dr. Sebastian Löbner
2. advisor: Prof. Dr. Daniel Altshuler
3. advisor: Dr. Albert Ortmann

PhD Project

Definiteness Marking in Rhenish Dialects

I investigate the strategy of marking definiteness in the Rhenish dialects Kölsch and Mön-chengladbacher Platt.
In contrast to Standard German, these varieties exhibit a grammatical asymmetry character-ized by two different forms of the definite article, referred to as the strong and weak form, respectively. The distinction is phonologically based on a vowel reduction.
The article split represents a crucial phenomenon with respect to Löbner’s theory of Concept Types and Determination (CTD) (Löbner 2011).
CTD is based on the assumption that four noun types exist representing four concept types: sortal nouns (SN), relational nouns (RN), individual nouns (IN) and functional nouns (FN), implying sortal ([-U] [-R]), relational ([-U] [+R]), individual ([+U] [-R]) and functional concepts ([+U] [+R]), respectively.
The function of the definite article is to indicate that the noun phrase (NP) (the horse, the moon, the head) is interpreted as a unique, that is either as an individual or a functional con-cept (Löbner 1985, 2011).
In cases where the concept type of the noun (horse (SN) = [-U] [-R]) and the one of the re-sulting NP (the horse = [+U] [-R]) differ, the kind of uniqueness is pragmatic, depending on contextual information. Consequently, the concept of the input noun has to be shifted: [-U] [-R] → [+U] [-R]. By contrast, instances of matching concepts (moon (IN) = [+U] [-R], the moon [+U] [-R]) are defined as semantically unique due to the inherently unique concept of the noun. My hypothesis is that the article forms display in(congruence): the primary function of the strong article is to indicate pragmatic uniqueness.
In this respect the phenomenon of the article split is also of particular interest to the project C01 Conceptual Shifts: Typological Evidence which investigates type shifts.
Noun phrases with respect to their ‘degree’ of inherent or contextual uniqueness are arranged on a scale, the scale of uniqueness (Löbner 2011:320), which depicts definite NPs in their different uses reaching from pragmatic to semantic uniqueness.
Based on the preliminary version of the scale I aim at exploring the specific conditions gov-erning the distribution of the strong and the weak article. Eventually, my goal is (i) to find out where the cut-off point of the split is to be located on the scale and (ii) to contribute to a detailed definition of its structure.
In order to receive reliable data for my investigation I record native speakers of Mönchen-gladbacher Platt and Kölsch.
A first analysis of takings collected and transcribed by myself has proven fruitful since it re-vealed a tendency towards the expected distribution of the two articles: the strong article is used in cases of pragmatic uniqueness (anaphoric and deictic NPs containing sortal nouns) and the weak article in cases of semantic uniqueness (individual or functional nouns). It will be interesting to explore those cases more precisely that do not seem to match the prediction as it seems to be the case with proper names, which often take the strong article.

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