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,,Ich mach dich Messer“: Grammatische Produktivität in Kiez-Sprache (,,Kanak Sprak“) 

Zurück zum Heft: Linguistische Berichte Heft 207
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The phrase ,,Ich mach dich Messer“ (lit.: I make you knife) is a ritualised threat used in a variety of contemporary German that is popularly known as ,Kanak Sprak' (kanak language), but is also referred to as ,Kiez-Sprache' (,hood language') by its speakers. Kiez-Sprache is a multi-ethnic variety that combines features of a youth language with those of a contact language, and has counterparts in other European countries (e.g. Rinkeby-Svenska in Sweden, straattaal in the Netherlands, or københavnsk multietnolekt in Denmark). So far, the interest in Kiez-Sprache has been mainly from sociological and sociolinguistic perspectives, and less so from grammatical ones.

After a brief discussion of Kiez-Sprache in general, I investigate the status of a phrase like ,,Ich mach dich Messer“ within the grammatical system of Kiez-Sprache as well as from the point of view of Standard German. Drawing on a corpus of spontaneous speech samples, I show that this phrase does not stand alone, but rather exemplifies a productive type of construction in Kiez-Sprache that is characterised by bare nouns and semantically bleached verbs. I argue that this construction reflects a linguistic division of labour between syntax and semantics that is supported by a pattern that Standard German provides for light verb constructions. Given these relationships, a phrase like ,,Ich mach dich Messer“ should not be regarded as a random grammatical simplification, and in particular not as an isolated case of determiner drop, but rather as a systematic phenomenon that indicates the grammatical productivity of this new variety.

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Linguistische Berichte Heft 207
Grewendorf , Günther | von Stechow, Arnim (Hg.)

Linguistische Berichte Heft 207