In the spirit of Jenny Cheshire’s work, we focus on a particular type of syntactic variation in a spoken, non-standardised language, i.e., Cité Duits, which necessarily includes an analysis of its pragmatic functions. This paper examines and accounts for variation in Preposition-Noun Combinations (PNCs), where, in addition to variation in the choice of the preposition itself, the determiner is variable, across speakers and in individuals. Cité Duits is compared with the language of miners from the Ruhr area in German and with German (Stuttgart) and Dutch (Gouda) (multi-)ethnolectal varieties. Bare nouns in PNCs emerge in all varieties and the variation with and without a determiner is not random, although bare nouns can occur in very different grammatical contexts and with different pragmatic/semantic constraints and functions. With the exception of the Dutch (multi-)ethnolectal variety, bare nouns in PNCs are favoured in contexts in which the nouns either refer weakly (i.e., do not single out a single referent with the presupposition that the hearer will be able to recognise it) or in which reference is not established on pragmatic but on semantic grounds (semantic definiteness). Only the German varieties reveal competition between the use of bare nouns and cliticisation to express referential strength and semantic definiteness.
|Title of host publication||Socio-grammatical Variation and Change|
|Subtitle of host publication||In Honour of Jenny Cheshire|
|Editors||Karen V. Beaman, Isabelle Buchstaller, Sue Fox, James A. Walker|
|Number of pages||26|
|Publication status||Published - 27 Aug 2020|