The course consists of two modules: a) Grammaticalisation and language change in German b) German variational linguistics.
The module on grammaticalisation will deal with the following content: after a thorough introduction to the grammaticalisation model and its main principles, a number of actual grammaticalisation phenomena in German will be looked at in detail: e.g. the development of the German modals, the auxiliary scheinen (Eng. 'to seem'), the rise of new complex prepositions, the so-called Dativpassiv-construction, the 'progressive' construction with 'am' (e.g. Sie ist am Lesen), ...
The discussion of these and other concrete themes will always involve reference to (various aspects of) the theoretical grammaticalisation model.
The module on variational linguistics will deal with the following content:
After defining the German language varieties and providing students with the terminology necessary for describing language variation in German, the course deals with the dialects of German and their functions. German's regional substandard languages and what sets them apart from dialects and the standard language are treated next. Finally, the course focuses on the German standard language(s) in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, etc. Students give a short oral presentation on a topic that illustrates what has been treated in the general introduction. Students also report on a relevant case study (from the existing body of literature) in a written mini paper, which is part of the writing programme to develop academic language proficiency. The quality of both oral and written assignments is reflected in the final mark for this module.