Der s-Plural im Alemannischen.

(K)ein Fremdkörper?


It is commonly agreed that the plural -s has become a part of Standard German inflection, yet in dialects such as Alemannic it is often seen as an intruder. We challenge this view based on data from a written survey amongst speakers of Swiss German dialects. Our analysis of pluralised loanwords (e. g. Mango) and abbreviations (e. g. WG ‘flat share’) shows a strong effect of both speakers’ age and grammatical gender that points towards a progressive integration of the plural -s into the dialectal system.

While masculine and neuter nouns can express number syntagmatically (using articles that differ in singular and plural), feminine nouns rely heavily on suffixes (as the definite article is d’ in both cases). A comparison of the -s plural with traditional dialectal plurals shows clear advantages for -s plurals in both cue strength (output) and scope (input) of the plural schema. We argue that it is due to this that feminine nouns show a significantly higher percentage of -s plurals compared with masculine and neuter nouns in speakers aged 25 and above. The difference disappears for younger speakers while the overall number of -s plurals increases drastically. Combined, we have an apparent time scenario that shows how the -s plural is first borrowed with nouns that rely on overt plural markers, and later spreads to most loans and other words with non-native structure.

Klein, A., & Kopf, K. (2019). Der s-Plural im Alemannischen.: (K)ein Fremdkörper?. Linguistik Online, 98(5), 31–49.