2018-08-20Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/19643
Self-embedding and complexity in oral registers
Sprach- und literaturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
This article reports the results of a study on the self-embedding depth of nominal, verbal and clausal projections in spoken corpora of German. We compared two spoken registers featuring public and non-public (i.e. private) conversation by measuring the depth of self-embedding in C, V, and N projections. The findings confirm the hypothesis that the familiarity of the speech situation (public vs. non-public speech) has a significant impact on complexity in terms of self-embedding: speakers use more self-embedding in public speech production in different syntactic projections. In addition, we examined previous assumptions about the differences between right, left, and center embedding in C projections. The results confirm a preference against center embedding in non-public texts, which reflects the complexity of center embedding. Finally, we find evidence that the depth of self-embedding in V and C projections is correlated. This finding suggests that self-embedding depth is part of a general strategy, i.e., speakers select more or less complex structures (of different types) depending on factors of the speech situation.
This article was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Open Access Publication Fund of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.