, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 3–14 | Cite as

Syncretism in Dutch dialects

Open Access
Original Paper


Dutch dialects show an enormous amount of variation with respect to the verbal inflectional paradigm. To wit, some dialects only have two forms in the present tense indicative to express all persons in singular and plural, whereas other dialects use three or even four different forms to do so. inflectional pattern is equally likely to occur; some patterns are found nowhere, whereas others are geographically widespread and stable over time. We will show that these recurring patterns of syncretism are also typologically well-attested. The recurring pattern involves neutralization of a morphosyntactic distinction in the marked half of the paradigm. More specifically, we see that plural and past tense are neutralizing contexts. We will show that a grammar that solely uses underspecification of affixes to account for the observed syncretisms, misses a generalization that can only be expressed by impoverishment rules or some paradigmatic means.


Verbal inflection Syncretism Morphological neutralization Dialectal variation Impoverishment Person marking Number marking 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universiteit van AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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