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Das präteritale Konzept im Frühneuhochdeutschen: Zur Distribution von Präteritum und präteritalem Perfekt in Flugschriften des 16. Jahrhunderts
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of Modern Languages.
2013 (German)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis addresses the decline of the preterite tense, referred to as der Oberdeutsche Präteritumschwund (Upper German Preterite Loss), in favour of the present perfect tense. Its main focus is to examine and compare the distribution of the two tenses. The present work combines synchronic and diachronic perspectives in order to provide a thorough account of the process of change; special attention is paid to the development of the present perfect and its different readings. The historical change in the German verbal system – the possibility of using the present perfect instead of the preterite – is a very noticeable feature of Early High German. This change gave the German verbal system two possibilities of expressing states of affairs with the same time reference.

According to this study, the present perfect is a polyfunctional category carrying not only the perfect but also the preterite reading, which can express the same semantics as the preterite: E,R<S. The two variants coexisted in the 16th century. The analysis is based on a text corpus containing forty political pamphlets belonging to different text types from the period 1509-1552 and considers the distribution of the two tenses according to verbal lexeme, situation type, inflectional class, voice, person, sentence type and the presence of temporal adverbials. Some textual-based factors are also studied.

Although the preterite is gradually being replaced by the present perfect, it is the preferred tense for the expression of E,R<S in the corpus, accounting for 69% of the data. The highest proportion of preterites is found with the verb sprechen and with the temporal adverb da/do (especially in combination with each other), in temporal clauses (particularly when initiated by da/do and als), in clauses of result and in clauses with modal verbs. High proportions of present perfect verb phrases with preterite readings correlate with second-person subjects, interrogative sentences and adverbials with calendar references. While the preterite is the pure narrative tense, the textual analysis also shows that the proportion of present perfect verb phrases are higher at the beginning of texts and when historical events are being interpreted, evaluated and judged.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Uppsala universitet, Institutionen för moderna språk , 2013. , 338 p.
Keyword [en]
Präteritumschwund, tense, present perfect, preterite, present perfect readings, tense change, tense variation, Early High German, pamphlets
Keyword [de]
Präteritumschwund, Perfektausweitung, Perfekt, Präteritum, Perfektlesarten, Tempus, Frühneuhochdeutsch, Flugschriften
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-206013OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-206013DiVA: diva2:643592
Public defence
2013-10-12, Ihresalen, Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3H, Uppsala, 13:15 (German)
Available from: 2013-09-20 Created: 2013-08-26 Last updated: 2014-01-13Bibliographically approved

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