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The Morphology, Syntax and Semantics of Definite Determiners in Swiss German

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Chapter Summary

In Swiss German there are three paradigms for the definite determiner: a weak article, a strong article, and a proximal demonstrative. This chapter shows that these three paradigms not only differ with respect to their morphological form, but also with respect to their semantic function and their syntactic structure. It demonstrates that every paradigm has its prototypical semantic function. Like Standard German, Swiss German dialects have a definite determiner with distinct forms marked for gender, number, and case. The chapter argues for a strong correlation between morphology, semantics, and syntax for the three paradigms of definite determiners in Swiss German. It proposes a syntactic structure for the Swiss German noun phrase within the framework of generative grammar, which should explain the distribution of the three paradigms. The chapter concludes that the presented noun phrase structure mirrors the characteristic properties of the three paradigms in Swiss German.

Keywords: definite determiner; generative grammar; morphology; semantics; Swiss German; syntax



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