Influences of rhythm on word order in German

Isabelle Franz, Markus Bader, Frank Domahs, Gerrit Kentner


We report three series of experiments exploring the influence of rhythm on word order in German, which were conducted in the course of the DFG-funded project The prosodic syntax of German. First, a picture based elicitation study shows that rhythmic well-formedness influences the order of isolated conjuncts in German children and adults, as long a semantic constraint plays no role. Second, a sentence memorizing study reveals no influences of rhythm on the choice between introduced and unintroduced embedded sentences in German. Third, a binary forced choice questionnaire study on silent reading shows that for object and adverbial pronouns German participants prefer typical sequences, but rather accept atypical sequences in the rhythmic conditions. Finally, we introduce an experiment on picture based sentence elicitation we are currently conducting, which explores the placement of the German object pronoun. Our results suggest that rhythmic influences on word order in German are systematic but a. do not exceed the clause level and b. do not override semantic constraints.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-79

Cite as: Franz, I., Bader, M., Domahs, F., Kentner, G. (2020) Influences of rhythm on word order in German. Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020, 385-388, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-79.


@inproceedings{Franz2020,
  author={Isabelle Franz and Markus Bader and Frank Domahs and Gerrit Kentner},
  title={{Influences of rhythm on word order in German}},
  year=2020,
  booktitle={Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020},
  pages={385--388},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-79},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-79}
}