Syntactic Peculiarities in Upper Sorbian from a Contrastive Perspective

Gary H. Toops, Wichita State University

The proposed paper examines several syntactic and morphosyntactic features of contemporary literary and colloquial Upper Sorbian which deviate both from standard grammatical descriptions of Upper Sorbian and from those of other West Slavic languages (Czech and Polish in particular). These include the following:


1) negation of non-finite verb forms (e.g., ł-participles) as opposed to negation of finite auxiliary verbs;
2) derivation of married women's surnames by means of both -ow- and -in- as opposed to the derivation of masculine possessive forms strictly by means of -ow-;
3) occurrence of žadyn 'no, none' with non-negated verbs;
4) conflation of the reflexive pronouns sej (dative) and so (accusative); and
5) use of the present conditional (rather than future indicative) as a future-in-the-past in subordinate clauses governed by a past-tense verb in the matrix clause.


The paper will show that while the above (morpho)syntactic features of Upper Sorbian suggest, at first glance, German influence and/or imitation of Czech models, most of them are primordially attributable to intralinguistic factors, i.e., grammatical
developments specific to Upper Sorbian itself. The data are drawn from contemporary Upper Sorbian literature and their analysis rests in part on commentary elicited from native speakers of Upper Sorbian in July 2004.