There are words that do not exist! A peek into the cabinet 
of grammatical curiosities Cover Image
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Wörter gibt's, die gibt‘s gar nicht! Ein Exkurs ins grammatische Raritätenkabinett
There are words that do not exist! A peek into the cabinet of grammatical curiosities

Author(s): Bruno Stecker
Subject(s): Language and Literature Studies, Applied Linguistics, Computational linguistics, Descriptive linguistics
Published by: Ústav pro jazyk český Akademie věd České republiky
Keywords: corpora; frequency of the grammatical phenomena; correctness; realisa-tions of syntactic constructions

Summary/Abstract: The possibility to search electronically very large corpora of texts has opened up ways in which we can truly evaluate the rules through which grammarians have tried and continue to try to simulate natural languages. However, the possibility to handle incredibly large amounts of texts might lead to problems with the assessment of certain phenomena that are hardly ever represented in those corpora and yet, have always been regarded as grammatically correct elements of a given language. In German, typical phenomena of this kind are forms like betrögest or erwögest, i.e. second person singular of the so-called strong verbs in the subjunctive mood. Should we see them merely as grammarians’ inventions? Before doing so, we should reconsider the nature of these phenomena. They may appear to be isolated word forms but, in fact, are compact realizations of syntactic constructions, and it is the frequency of these constructions that should be evaluated, not the frequency of their specific realizations.

  • Issue Year: 2010
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 57-64
  • Page Count: 8
  • Language: German