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Bächler, Raffaela; Pröll, Simon (2018): Loss and preservation of case in Germanic non-standard varieties. In: Glossa-A Journal of General Linguistics, Vol. 3, No. 1, 113
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This paper deals with inflectional change in Germanic standard and non-standard varieties, challenging the standard model of phonologically driven case loss in favour of a model that allows for interaction between phonological, syntactic, and purely morphological processes. After providing evidence from the language histories of the modern, standardised varieties of High German and Swedish which calls into question the exclusive role of phonology, we concentrate on two Germanic non-standard varieties: Visperterminen Alemannic, a successor of Old High German, and Ovdalian, which stems from Old Dalecarlian (Old Swedish is used as a proxy to Old Dalecarlian). Both can serve as a testing ground for system-internal morphological change, as they carry on specific phonological aspects of their ancestral varieties, and have not been subject to excessive language contact that could have triggered external simplification processes. Using these non-standard varieties as an empirical base, we examine the patterns of loss of inflectional case marking and corresponding compensation strategies on the level of the nominal phrase. It can be shown that, while there are extensive syncretisms in noun inflection, these are systematically compensated for in the noun phrase for dative, but not for the nominative - accusative syncretism. The systematic (non-)compensation in the noun phrase can be explained by word order. Based on our results, we propose an alternative model for morphological change in Germanic that is less prone to counterevidence from non-standard varieties.