Research focus and projects

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I. Research Focus

German Grammar in Presence and History, esp:

  • Grammatical text analysis (a functional syntax 'from top to
            bottom' (= from the text (text elements) via the sentence (sentence elements)
            to the word group level (word group elements)).
  • Contemporary grammar and language history
  • Grammar change
  • Syntax of New High German
  • Grammar and literalization
  • Grammar and orality/writtenness (proximity/distance)
  • Junction theory
  • Dependency grammar
  • Valence theory
  • Historical Valence (Early New High German)
  • Syntax of the nominal group
  • Phraseology and grammar
  • Coordination ellipsis
  • Grammar and literature  

II. projects

1) DFG-Project: Basic Syntactic Structures of New High German. On the grammatical foundation of a reference corpus of New High German (Univ. Kassel and Univ. Gießen) (Homepage

Currently, there are several projects for the creation of  grammatically indexed reference corpora of older language levels; however, a comparable project for the grammatical-corpus-linguistic indexing of Nhd does not yet exist. The planned project is therefore to be understood as a supplement to the efforts of the "German Text Archive" for a reference corpus of the Nhd

With regard to the grammatical writing of High German, the situation is comparable: A number of contemporary grammars as well as language-stage grammars of Ahd, Mhd, and Frnhd are available, but a grammar of Nhd does not yet exist. And yet, of all things, we are dealing with the linguistically and culturally central epoch of the development of the modern written and standard language, the emergence of modern colloquial and regional languages, and the differentiation of text types, text styles, and literary genres. This deficit is not only of intradisciplinary concern; the research asymmetries are also striking in comparison with other text-related disciplines: While, for example, the 18th and 19th centuries are very well researched in literary and philosophical history, a well-founded grammatical analysis of central literary and philosophical texts of the 18th and 19th centuries would not even be possible for lack of studies on basic syntactic structures of the Nhd. A central goal of the project is to lay the theoretical and empirical foundations for a syntax of New High German. Fundamental to this is the concept of Grammatical Textual Analysis (see III/1 below), which assumes that grammatical structures are meaningful and symbolic.

Linguistic guiding principles of the project are: i) Bridging function (viability): Connection of historical to present-day grammar research and grammar writing and vice versa; ii) Grammar-theoretical openness: convergence between projectionist and constructionist grammar models; iii) Varietal dynamics: by taking into account varietal differences, a general contribution to a better grammatical and cultural understanding of language variation and the diversity of textual worlds in both Nhd and present-day German is to be made.

The project is carried out in cooperation with the University of Giessen. The Giessen project group is headed by Prof. Dr. Mathilde Hennig.


2) New High German Grammar (1650-2000)

This is a long-term project with the goal of creating a language level grammar of German for the period from 1650 to 2000.(Download "Project Outline New High German Grammar") For basics and guiding principles see. II/1 above.

The realization of the Nhd. language level grammar was and is supported by two DFG projects headed by Mathilde Hennig and myself: a) "Explicit and elliptical junction in the syntax of New High German. Pilot project on a language level grammar of New High German" (2007-2009)(Download, see III/2 below) and b) "Basic Syntactic Structures of New High German. On the grammatical foundation of a reference corpus of New High German" (2016-2019) (see II/1 above).

III. completed projects

1) Grammatical text analysis (book project)


2) DFG project: Explicit and elliptical junction in the syntax of New High German. Pilot project on a language level grammar of New High German (2007-2009).

The empirical result of the project is the Kassel Junction Corpus (KAJUK).

The Kassel Junction Corpus consists of four syntactically richly annotated texts each from the 17th and 19th centuries. The annotation focus was on junction-relevant grammatical features, by combining which different techniques of explicit and elliptical junction can be reconstructed. The annotated corpus is publicly available at ANNIS