Der onymische Artikel im Schweizerdeutschen in seiner Funktion als Genusmarker
In Swiss German dialects first names are commonly used with a preceding article. Historically, the function of these so-called onymic articles was to show the name’s case. They first arose when inflection of first names had been omitted and case was thus no longer expressed in suffixes. The data gathered in 2016 in an online survey for the research project “Das Anna und ihr Hund” indicate that today the function of reflecting the case is hardly relevant. However, it is important to the speakers to emphasize the nameʼs grammatical gender. The three grammatical genders in (Swiss) German are feminine, masculine, and neuter. Typically, the ononymic articles’ grammatical gender corresponds to their referents’ biological gender, i. e. feminine articles for women’s names, masculine articles for men’s names. But sometimes neuter articles are used with female or, less often, with male names. Therefore, the same first name can have different grammatical genders that are indicated with an onymic article, e. g. d Anna (f.) or s Anna (n.). The choice of the article depends on the speaker, the situation, the referent, and other factors. Based on these observations, it is argued that marking grammatical gender is the onymic article’s main function and marking case is secondary.
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