Voigtmann, Sophia; Speyer, Augustin

Information density as a factor for syntactic variation in Early New High German

Proceedings of Linguistic Evidence 2020, Tübingen, Germany, 2021.

In contrast to other languages like English, German has certain liberties in its word order. Different word orders do not influence the proposition of a sentence. The frame of the German clause are the sentence brackets (the left (LSB) and the right (RSB) sentence brackets) over which the parts of the predicate are distributed in the main clause, whereas in subordinate clauses, the left one can host subordinate conjunctions. But apart from the sentence brackets, the order of constituents is fairly variable, though a default word order (subject, indirect object, direct object for nouns; subject, direct object, indirect object for pronouns) exists. A deviation of this order can be caused by factors like focus, given-/newness, topicality, definiteness and animacy (Zubin & Köpcke, 1985; Reis, 1987; Müller, 1999; Lenerz, 2001 among others).