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					2.0 Case and Gender Marking in DCK

        The changes in case morphology of DCK are almost

exclusively represented in the personal pronouns and articles (both

definite and indefinite). After the some general background is

given, case and gender markers are exam ined with respect to

definite and indefinite articles and pronouns.

        StdGm has four cases (nominative, genitive, accusative and

dative), while modern Stadt - and Landkölsch have in general two

(where the nominative and accusative have merged into a common

case) and three in the pronouns (in both SK & LK, the genitive only

survives in set and idiomatic expressions).

                Table 2. Definite Article in StdGm, SK and LK
                           according to Wrede (1958)
                                   St dG m                                    SK / LK
                        m      n         f      pl               m             n      f      pl
    Nom in a t i ve    der                                  dä , d er/ dr ,     da t,            d e: ,
                               das       d ie        d ie                               de :
    Ac c us a t i ve   de n                                  de n , de           et              d ie
      Da t i ve        dem     dem       der         de n       dem             dem     der     de( n)
     G e ni t i ve     des     des       der         der         des            des     der      der

        DCK, as recorded by Seifert and McGraw, shows a similar

paradigm to SK and LK. The definite articles in McGraw‟s data are

listed below. Note that already here we see reduced forms used in

variation with full forms (e.g., using both [dat] and [ ´t]).

                          Table 3.DCK Definite Articles
                            from McGraw (1973: 122) 4
                    masculine       feminine      neuter                                   plural
Common            [dEr]~[dE]~     [di]~[d´]    [dat]~[´t]                              [di]~[d´]

          “~” is used by McGraw to denote “reduction”; all transcriptions from McGraw‟s data
(either noted as 1970s DCK or from McGraw) that are used are his own.

Dative      [dEm]~[ ´m]      [dEr]~[dE]~[     [dEr]~[´m]   [dEr]~[dE]~[
                             d´]                           d´]

       McGraw states that his consultants often had “a strong

tendency to confuse the dative and the accusative” (1973: 189) –

referring to common versus dative use in prepositional phrases,

which suggests the shift towards one case was well underway at the

time of his research. Seifert‟s data shows similar patterns (i.e.,

varying use of accusative and dative) but with more dativ e use. The

dative is discussed further in section 2.4.

       Seifert‟s recordings show some StdGm influence on speakers.

Two forms stand out in particular: the occasional use of den for the

masculine accusative (as in StdGm but not in other recordings of

DCK nor in SK or LK) and das for the neuter nominative and

accusative (as in StdGm, not dat/´t as in later recordings, SK and


2.1 Nominative Case

       The basic functions of the nominative have remained much the

same compared with all previous data and StdGm , SK and LK but

reduction has occurred (comparing forms in both McGraw and

Seifert‟s data to the 1999/2000 data). McGraw‟s data show that

reduced forms abound – as one would expect in a dialect used in

everyday speech - and cloud the distinctions between masculine,

feminine and the plural.

     If one looked only superficially at these reduced forms, one

might mistake a DCK speaker‟s use of [d ´] for simplification based

upon analogy with English “the” (which is often produced as [d ´] by

DCK speakers when they speak English), but there is a clear trend

of reduction here, and the case for making an analogy with English

is weak for two reasons. First, full forms are used alongside

reduced ones by speakers in both Seifert and McGraw‟s data (but

less reduced forms occur in Seifert), and second, the fact that this

same trend has occurred in a number of closely related European

German and German -American dialects and Germanic languages in


     The full forms could be StdGm influence. The fact that they

were wide spread in use and that their use has declined but

nevertheless persisted suggests that they have been in use for

some time, but their source is uncertain.

2.2 Genitive Case

     The genitive case is limited to idiomatic expressions and set

phrases in both SK a nd LK, and occurrences are even more limited

in DCK. This trend is common in dialects of German in both Europe

and the Americas.

2.3 Accusative Case

        As seen in Table 3, the DCK (and likewise SK and LK)

accusative and nominative forms have merged in the definite

articles – this is also the situation for the indefinite articles and

possessive pronouns (discussed further in 2.4). The only distinction

that was lost was in the masculine; so in the 1970s data, there

remained only distinct accusative and dativ e forms in the pronouns.

        Table 4 lists the accusative personal pronouns as noted by

McGraw; he also lists “allomorphs” – that is reduced forms, which

are in parentheses.

        (Note that feminine forms, according to McGraw, are rare and

were often assigned neute r pronouns, as is also the situation in SK

and LK.)

                   Table 4. Accusative personal pronouns
                & allomorphs from McGraw (1973: 128 -131) 5
                Person/Number Singular (allomorphs) Plural
                1                  [mix] ([mi]/[m ´]) [os]
                2                    [dix] ([di:r])   [yx]
                3 masculine           [´n] ([´m])     [z´]
                3 feminine                [z´]        [z´]
                3 neuter                  [´t]        [z´]

        The more recent data set presents a different picture. The

feminine pronouns have been reanalyzed and are now sometimes

          McGraw transcribes many of these forms with /x/, but he likely meant /ç/ in the pronoun
forms listed above. Because of the unavailability of McGraw‟s recordings at this time, however, I
was unable to verify this correction. Therefore, I have left them as is.

used when referring to female persons (as in English, where “natural

gender” is dominant), b ut clearly not the majority of the time or for

grammatically feminine nouns, as in examples 2 and 3. Also note

that just as in SK, LK and colloquial German, the use of

articles/relative pronouns in place of pronouns is quite actively used

in the third person, both singular and plural.

1. (referring to a sister who left)

(1973) DCK:               ´t   ys   j´jaN´
(1999) DCK:               z´   is   j´jaN´
StdGm:    sie             ist  gegangen
                          „She has gone‟

(1999) DCK:               dat 6 is d´ kla:d´re an/am riN
                          she is the clothes at washing
                          „She is washing the clothes”

                    Table 5. Accusative personal pronouns in
                                 1999/2000 Data
                Person/Number Singular (infrequent)     Plural
                1               [mi]/[m´] ([mIç] [mIk]) [çs]
                2                [di:] [dIk] ([dIç])    ----- 7
                3 masculine     [´m]                    [z´]
                3 feminine      [z´] [I:®]              [z´]
                3 neuter        [´t] [´s]               [z´]

          d at r ef er s t o a wom a n .
          I h a v e as of ye t n o a tt es t e d f orm s f or th e s e c on d p ers on pl ur a l.

           Table 6. Frequency of Forms used in recordings
                              from Table 5
Person/Number Form =                       Form =
                occurrences/total          occurrences/total
1               [mi]/[m´] = 10/13          [mIç]=2/13
2               [di:] = 4/8                [dIç] = 1/8
                [dIk] = 3/8
3 feminine      [z´] = 1/2                 [i:®] = 1/2
3 neuter        [´t] = 4/6                 [´s] = 2/6

      Table 6 describes pronoun usage. All of the pronouns were

used in either the accusative or dative prepositional phrases (e.g.,

“m´t mi”). [i:®] was used as an accusative object.

      [mIx] (see footnote 5 on page 15), the dominate form in the

1973 data, has been largely replaced by its allomorphs [mi] and

[m´]; although [mIç] and [mIk] both appear as less common variants.

Similarly, either by an alogy with the first person singular or the

reduced form cited by McGraw in the second person accusative, [di:]

and [dIk] appear to be the dominant forms (again with [dIç]

appearing on occasion). [ ´m] has entirely taken over [ ´n]. [´t]

appears in variation with (the StdGm) [ ´s] – there were not enough

occurrences to clearly indicate one over the other, but [ ´t] is

separate from the feminine in clearly feminine nouns (i.e., [ ´t] acts

like the English it with regards to the feminine). The first and third

person plural pronouns have remained the same.

      [´m] and [i:®] present an interesting problem – both are

originally dative forms in the 1970s and earlier DCK. There are

likely many explanations.

      One possibility is that the dative forms merged with the

accusative, as is the case for the articles (which will be discussed

shortly) creating two competing pronouns. In this scenario, most of

the dative forms would have to have been lost (which occurs in all

but the masculine and feminine singular pronouns), and t hose

remaining would be used in free variation. This appears to be the

case for [´n] and [ ´m].

      Another plausible idea comes from evidence from older (dead)

Germanic languages that has shown the mixing of final –n and –m,

and here is perhaps another instan ce.

      [i:®] represents an entirely different issue in the first scenario

described above, but it is also at a different stage of development.

If the speakers are aiming for a subject -object distinction, they

would not have wanted to maintain the older femin ine accusative

form [z´], and instead picked the more distinctive [i: ®].

      Based on Natural Morphology, one would expect certain

changes to occur in this situation: loss of the dative; the nominative -

accusative distinctions becoming better defined (ultimatel y leading

to a nominative versus oblique distinction after marked dative are

replaced by marked accusative forms); and pronouns, that retain

more marking than other NPs because of their high frequency and

the fact that they are stored lexically and not cre ated by rules, are

more resistant to change (Salmons 1994: 64). DCK parallels this –

the process of case loss is complete in the articles, both definite

and indefinite (as is further discussed in 2.4). If that assumption is

correct, then DCK presently sh ows the completion of the process in

the masculine and an intermediate stage in the feminine pronouns.

2.4 Dative Case

      The dative case is marked in StdGm, SK and LK, but DCK has

lost nearly all distinctive dative marking (i.e., there are no forms

used to represent the dative alone). This shift must have started in

the 1940s, as early signs of the collapse of the dative and the loss

of dative marking are evident in Seifert‟s data (with the occurrence

of d´) and prominent in McGraw‟s data.

2.4.1 Dative in Seifert‟s Data

      Seifert‟s recordings in the late 1940s all show clearly marked

dative for all of the genders and the plural. The resemblance with

SK and LK is clear (see table 3), as they all mark the dative in the

same ways: masculine and neuter with –m endings on all articles

(e.g., d´m „to the‟, zain´m „to his/its‟) and adjectives; feminine with

–r (e.g., d´r „to the‟, ir´m „to her/their‟); and plural with either –r

(e.g., d´r „to the‟, unzr´r „to our‟) or n (e.g., d´n „to the‟, main´n „to

my‟). One reduced form – the now dominant d´ – occurs, but it is

infrequently used and only occurs in rapid speech in unstressed


2.4.2 Dative in McGraw‟s Data

      McGraw‟s data show a major shift away from marked dative

forms (compared with both SK/LK and Seifert‟s data), and the

merger of dative with accusative forms seems to have been well

under way by that point. Salmons (1994: 61 -62) shows that in

Texas German there is a generational trend which links the loss of

StdGm instruction in schools coinci des with the beginning of the

loss of accusative versus dative distinctions. In the case of DCK,

StdGm was taught as either the primary or offered as a secondary

language of instruction, and as McGraw lists as two of the factors

that all consultants had i n common as “None received [an] education

beyond the eighth grade” and “All informants reported both an active

and passive knowledge of [Standard] German” (1973: 29). Taking

those factors into account, the dative forms were perhaps

maintained for a time l onger because of the StdGm presence. (Even

SK/LK would have dative markings, see table 3).

(1970s) DCK:     m´t           d´        panlo:f´
StdGm:    mit            der   Pfanne
                 „with         the       pan‟
(1970s) DCK:     myt di        mans
StdGm:           mit   den     Männern
                 „with the     men‟

     Even common dative prepositions such as met/mit/m´t „with‟

have become unmarked, as d´ could be any gender and any

number, and di could be nominative, accusative or dative feminine

or plural. McGraw states that this unmarked d ative form does not

always occur, but it occurs more often than the marked form (1973:

123). Unfortunately, McGraw lists no numbers for comparison.

      McGraw states that dative pronouns occur, but he also lists

that the accusative third person masculine [ ´n] is slowly being

replaced by the dative third person masculine [ ´m]. The first person

pronouns [mIx] (accusative) and [mi:r] (dative are often reduced to

[mi:] or [m´]; in the same fashion, the second person accusative

[dIx] and dative [di:r] are reduced or converge to [di:] or [d ´]).

Unfortunately, McGraw gives no numbers on the frequency of the

different dative forms.

2.4.3 Changes in the Dative Since McGraw

      The forms that McGraw lists as being reduced are the most

commonly used forms now, so that the dative is not distinguishable

from the accusative and nominative. Looking back to table 2, one

can see the clear dative definite articles with well -marked features.

The only reduced forms that blur the case marking are found in the

feminine and the plural, but the masculine and neuter both have the

expected –m ending. The new data suggest a different paradigm.

      The dative has collapsed into the nominative/accusative with

respect to articles and adjective endings. This leaves the reduced

form [d´] functioning for the masculine, the feminine and the plural

in all cases and either [dat] (sometimes with a:) and [ ´t] f or the

neuter. This yields the following table.

         Table 8. DCK Definite Articles in 1999/2000 Data
                   masculine feminine neuter      plural

                 N.A.D. [d´]                      [d´]            [dat]~[´t] [d´]

         Like the definite articles, the indefinite articles display a

similar pattern of reduction and reanalysis. McGraw finds there to

be nominative -accusative and dati ve forms for all three genders.

                         Table 9. DCK Indefinite Articles
                              from McGraw (1973: 125)
                                  masculine feminine neuter
                       Common [´n´]         [´n]     [´]
                       Dative     [´n´m]    [´n]     [´n´m]

         Again, McGraw finds the merging of the nominative with the

accusative, and a dative form only marked in the masculine and

neuter by an –m. The dative dist inction or loss of –m (there is no

evidence to suggest which one caused the other) in the new data

have helped to synthesize a new set of indefinite articles. The

forms ending in ´ tend to be in unstressed positions.

         Table 10. DCK Indefinite Articles in 1 999/2000 Data
               masculine         feminine             neuter
       N.A.D. [en] [´n] [´n´]    [´n] [en] [en´]      [´n] [en]

         The mix of forms suggests that the reduction and loss are not

complete (i.e., multiple forms still exist), perhaps because of the

contamination from StdGm. The ar ticle system resembles

Norwegian 8 or Dutch more than StdGm or Kölsch in Germany.

            B ok m ål has m as c u l in e, f em in i ne an d n eu t er , bu t th e m as c u li n e a n d
f em ini n e f or alm os t al l s p e ak er s is th e s am e, wher e t he f em in i n e i n def in i te
art ic l e e i ( d ef . –a ) is u s ed b y O s l o ar ea s pe a k ers a nd m ore c o ns er v at i v e
s pe ak er s e it h er o n l y f or s tr ic t l y f em al e n ou n s or n o t at a l l .

These are forms that have been reduced to the bare bones, only

providing information on whether it is a definite or indefinite. As in

colloquially spoken European German (as in ‘nen for einen, ’ne for

eine, etc.), the change in DCK has come to near completion.

         Case loss or reduction in German -American dialects is not a

unique feature of German -American dialects but rather a trend

started on the continent and continued in the U.S. Keel (1994)

pointed out that comparing German-American dialects with their

European counterparts, one finds that they are both undergoing very

similar changes: case loss with retention of number and gender

markers 9. Not surprisingly, this pattern ho lds true for DCK.

                S e v er al di a l ec ts ( e . g. , S ax o n, A lem a nn ic , B a var i a n, e tc .) ha v e a t wo
c as e s ys t em i n th e d ef i ni t e an d i n def i ni t e art i c l es ( e it h er nom i na t i v e v ers us
ob l i qu e or c om m on v er s us d at i v e) f or t h e m a s c u li n e f o rm s . L o w G erm an
d ia l ec ts ( m in us Up p er S ax o n i n t he pl ur a l) h a ve t h at d is t inc t io n ( i . e. ,
nom i na t i ve v er s us o b l i qu e) f or m as c ul i n e def i ni t e art ic l es a nd h a v e n o c as e
d is t i nc t i on f or t he ot he r t wo g e nd ers o r t h e p l ura l . O t her di a l ec ts ( m inus
T hur in g ia n) h a v e a c o m m on v ers us d at i v e d i s ti nc ti o n f or t h e f em i n i ne , n eu t er
an d p l ur al . ( K e e l 19 9 4 )

                                                         23 Possessive Adjectives

        Table 11. McGraw ’s Possessive Adjectives:
                e.g., [miN] ‘my’ & [os] ‘our’
       masculine        feminine     neuter        plural
Common [miN´] [oz´]     [miN] [os]   [mi:] [os]    [miN] [os]
Dative [miN´m][oz´m] [miN´][oza] [miN´m][oz´m] [miN´][oza]

      The possessive adjectives have gone through several

changes. I believe that they changed in a systematic sequence.

First, a loss of dative distinction occurs alongside the development

of a reduced form (with ´ lost in the masculine), b oth of which

happen to the articles. W ith reduction must have come a reanalysis

in the neuter (e.g., neuter [mi:] to masc./fem./neuter [mi N] –

although variation remains); followed by an extension of endings

from the masculine and plural endings into the feminine and neuter

as a variant. This order makes sense in the larger trends of DCK as

well as the reasons for the maintenance of some of the older looking

and variant forms, which are unique to the feminine and neuter.

         Table 12. Possessive Adjectives: [ miN] & [os]
                       in 1999/2000 Data
       masculine    feminine     neuter       plural
N.A.D. [min´] [min] [min] [min´] [mi:] [min]  [min] [min´]
N.A.D. [oz´] [onz´] [oz´] [onz´] [oz´] [onz´] [oz´] [onz´]

2.4.3 Lack of distinct Dative or inconsistent
       Dative in 1999/2000

                   Reduction in the articles has resulted in a loss of

distinction of dative markers. Articles such as d´m and d´r have

been reduced to d´. This coupled with the merging of the dative

pronouns into the accusative ones, has led to the near extinction of

dative forms and yielded either no case distinction, as in the

articles, or a nominative versus oblique distinction.

5. 10
DCK:               çp                          d´  tI∫/ dI∫
StdGm:             auf                         dem Tisch
                   on+dative                   the table
                   „on the table‟

         The marked dative form largely only occurs in two functional

places: with nominalized verbs to convey action using the am

construction – am is a contraction of an+dem but is uncontracted to

an d´ – and infrequently in the contraction im „in the‟ + dative (the

1999 consultant switched frequently betwee n im – which is a

contraction of in and dem – and in d´). A few fixed expressions

have maintained this dative, primarily “ in d´m hu:s”.

             N ot e t ha t th e pr e pos i t i on ç p ( S td G m : a uf ) c an ha v e e it h er t he d a ti v e or
ac c us a ti v e b ut f u nc t i o ns a bo v e as a d a ti v e o f l oc a t io n.

       Using verbs in the an/am+dative construction is the most

frequent use of the dative in the 1999/2000 data. The constr uction

is used as the progressive is in English. This is not a unique

feature of DCK, as it is found in other European German dialects,

Dutch and German American dialects.

DCK:        mi®    zin  a:m    tre∫n
            we     are at the threshing
            „W e   are threshing‟

DCK:        mi®    zin   a:n   de     tre∫n
            we     are   at    the    threshing
            „W e   are                threshing‟

       The use of im is in frequent, and more often, the uncontracted

in+d´ is used.

 Table 13. Dative Forms (not including the an/am+inf.) Found in
                    Dative          Common (= d ´)       Other
                 (= use of im)     (expected Dative)     (= no
Occurrences/     10/41 = 22%          28/41 = 68%    4/41 = 10%
  Example         im bet (x3);         in d´ Su:l     t´ dçxtor;
                 im Sta:l (x2)                         na:® Su:l

      Table 13 describes the use of dative construction s. All

occurrences of the dative were counted divided into these three


DCK:        im                      hu:ze
StdGm:      im(=in+dem)             Haus
                 „ in t h e         ho us e ‟

DCK:        in d´     hu:ze
StdGm:      im(=in+dem)     Haus
            „in the         house‟

DCK:        in                d´    ek
StdGm:      in                der   Ecke
            in+Dat            the   corner

      Places where one would expect an article sometimes lack such

– especially in the dative. This is perhaps due to English influence,

but it is more likely part of a broader trend across German American


DCK:        in            vInt®
StdGm:      im (=in+dem) W inter
            „in   (the)  winter‟

DCK:       im               vInt®
StdGm:     im (=in+dem)     W inter
           „in   (the)      winter‟

     The dative appears at no other time in free conversational

recordings. The lack of distinctive markings on dative objects has

made it no more than an infrequent alternative only used in set,

older constructions.


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