Original Paper


, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 109-149

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

The typology of syncretisms and the status of feature structure. Verbal paradigms across 355 Dutch dialects

  • Suzanne Pauline AalberseAffiliated withFaculty of Arts, Department of Dutch Linguistics, University of Amsterdam Email author 


In this article syncretic patterning in the present indicative paradigm of the verb kloppen (‘to knock’) is described for 355 Dutch dialects taken from the morphological atlas of Dutch dialects (Van den Berg 2003). Following Baerman et al. (2005, The syntax-morphology interface. A study of syncretism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), I distinguish syncretisms driven by (universal) feature structure and language specific sources of syncretism. I present independent evidence for the role of phonology, pragmatics and amplification in the formation of syncretic patterns of Dutch. The benefit of the study of the interaction between language specific routes to syncretism and feature structure is threefold. We know language specific routes to syncretism can obscure feature structure. By distinguishing the different routes to syncretism we canalsorevealthe strength of feature structure. Secondly, distinguishing sources of syncretisms enables us to understand similarities and differences in the cross-linguistic patterning of syncretisms. Thirdly, we can link typological data to language acquisition patterns.


Syncretism Verbal inflection Feature hierarchy Amplification Dialectal variation