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German double-accusative verbs: different solutions for avoiding a marked construction

Zurück zum Heft: Linguistische Berichte Heft 278
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Extending Lee-Schoenfeld & Diewalds (2017) corpus investigation and formal analysis of lehren ("teach") to the other four German double-accusative verbs, abfragen, abhören (both meaning "quiz/test"), kosten ("cost"), and fragen ("ask"), we show that each verb follows its own individual path to overriding the highly marked ACC > ACC pattern, with the latest usage data revealing notably different results as to the verbs most typical syntactic patterns, meaning variants, and contextual features. Specifically, we propose that this small group of verbs makes use of three different "strategies" for avoiding the ACC > ACC pattern: (i) change of major valency frame from a ditransitive to a monotransitive pattern (abhören and abfragen), (ii) limiting the second object to primarily a clausal or prepositional one (fragen), and (iii) semantic diversification / polysemy combined with different preferences as to the valency pattern per meaning (kosten). We back up these claims by comparing the usage patterns of the verbs in four time periods between 1800 and 2010 via corpus analyses using DWDS (Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache, https://www.dwds.de/). We also present the results of a synchronic search using the German web corpus deTenTen.