hin vs. herhier vs. dort/da. The Neutralization of the Speaker's Perspective – A Case-Study of Semantic (Inter-)Subjectification in German Dialects

Heiko Girnth 1  and Sascha Michel 2
  • 1 Forschungszentrum Deutscher Sprachatlas, Hermann-Jacobsohn-Weg 3, 35032 Marburg, Germany. girnth@staff.uni-marburg.de
  • 2 Johannes-Gutenberg-Universität, Deutsches Institut, Jakob-Welder-Weg 18, 55128 Mainz, Germany. sa.michel@gmx.de


The paper examines the semantic change, i.e. subjectification of place deictic elements in German dialects. Starting from a description of (dialectal) language change, the theory of area progression is applied to two case-studies of subjectification: on the one hand, it is to be demonstrated that speakers tend to neutralize the (dynamic) perspectives ‹turned towards the speaker› and ‹turned away from the speaker› by generalizing formations with her- (and thus abolishing formations with hin-) in the northern (and increasingly in the southern) part of the research area.

On the other hand, the static dimensions of distance hier vs. da/dort are increasingly neutralized in favour of dort/da in a large area of the respective western German dialects. Both processes will be subsequently explained with the speaker's striving for subjectification which, in the first case, manifests itself directly in the greater emphasis on the speaker's origo, whereas objects being in the speaker's field of vision constitute the basis for the direction of the neutrallization in the latter case. The origo is thus emphasized indirectly.

Finally, the data will be taken to develop a theory of dialectal language change based on distributional generalizations.

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Dialectologia et Geolinguistica publishes contributions on the variation of languages world-wide, systematic and inherent, diachronic and synchronic, regional and social, based on either oral or written data. It is open to all theoretical and methodological approaches. The journal is the official journal of the International Society for Dialectology and Geolinguistics (ISDG/SIDG).