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Rethinking Verb Second$
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Rebecca Woods and Sam Wolfe

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198844303

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198844303.001.0001

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Verb Third in spoken German

Verb Third in spoken German

A natural order of information?

(p.682) 29 Verb Third in spoken German
Rethinking Verb Second

Heike Wiese

Mehmet Tahir Öncü

Hans G. Müller

Eva Wittenberg

Oxford University Press

Recent findings from spoken language use outside formal standard German provide evidence for linearizations that violate the V2 constraint, suggesting that there might be extensions of V2 in German to a more liberal forefield that can also accommodate V3. Evidence for this was first reported from Kiezdeutsch, an urban dialect from informal peer-group settings in multilingual contexts, and has subsequently also been found in more monolingual settings of German. Findings point to a specific pattern that allows both frame setters and topics to appear together in the left periphery. This chapter contains results from a cross-linguistic study that further explored such an information-structural motive. The investigation was inspired by a seminal study by Goldin-Meadow et al. (2008) that revealed language-independent preferences for the serialization of thematic roles, a ‘natural order of events’. The study investigates a possible ‘natural order of information’ in three typologically different languages, namely German, English, and Turkish: were speakers more likely to place verbs in a position after frame setter plus topic (supporting V3) if language-specific grammatical restrictions were removed? Results indicate an information-structural motivation of V3 that holds across speakers of different linguistic backgrounds (German, English, Turkish), even in violation of language-specific word order options.

Keywords:   V2, V3, urban dialect, forefield, information-structural motive, spoken language

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