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Voice Quality

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Dissertation Information

Title: The Origins and Development of Germanic V2: Evidence from alliterative verse Add Dissertation
Author: Tonya Dewey Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of California, Berkeley, Department of German
Completed in: 2006
Linguistic Subfield(s): Historical Linguistics;
Language Family(ies): Germanic
Director(s): Thomas Shannon
Irmengard Rauch
John Lindow

Abstract: This dissertation describes finite verb placement in older Germanic on the
basis of data from the Old Saxon Heliand, the Old Icelandic Poetic Edda,
and the Gothic Skeireins. The author argues that placement of the finite
verb in these texts is determined by intonational strength, and that this
reflects the origins of verb-second word order in Germanic (hereafter
Germanic V2). The findings demonstrate that Germanic V2 is in fact
inherited in all the daughter languages, and does not represent parallel
independent developments.

As has been previously observed (cf. Kristján Árnason 2002), a finite verb
in second position never participates in alliteration, i.e., does not carry
a stave, in Eddic or Skaldic poetry. This usually means that the finite
verb is unstressed. However, a finite verb in initial or final position
may carry a stave, meaning that it must be stressed. Unstressed finite
verbs thus tend to appear in the second position in early Germanic, a
phenomenon similar to (but not identical with ) Wackernagel's Law. This
tendency is best observed in alliterative verse, but may also be seen in a
text such as the Skeireins where the manuscript punctuation indicates the
intonational pattern of the text.

The dissertation is structured as follows. Chapter 1 provides an overview
of previous analyses of Germanic V2, both in its synchronic analysis and
with respect to its historical development. Chapter 2 presents arguments
for the specific analysis adopted here, an HPSG linearization account along
the lines of Kathol (2000). This is followed by a brief overview of
Germanic metrics and a description of clause types in early Germanic.
Chapters 3 and 4 are in-depth analyses of the data from Old Saxon and Old
Norse, respectively. In Chapter 5, data from Gothic is considered.
Chapter 6 describes the development of Germanic V2 based on the Old Saxon,
Old Icelandic and Gothic data, continuing in to the modern Germanic languages.