This Ph.D. thesis offers the first in depth analysis of language plays (Geheimsprachen) based on the German language. For German, this empirical phenomenon has never before been described from a morpho-prosodic point of view although language plays are rather common in the German speaking area. Language plays involve manipulations such as, for instance, insertion of a -b- after every syllable nucleus followed by copying of the preceding nucleus” (gu.te --> gu-bu-te-be). Against Zwicky & Pullum (1987) and Dressler (2000) I argue that the processes observable in language plays are similar to processes active in natural languages, more specifically, they are analyzable in a similar fashion as morpho-prosodic processes such as reduplication, infixation and truncation. For this reason I propose to call language plays of this type “grammatische Kunstsprachen” (grammatical language plays). The first part of the work is dedicated to the presentation of the data which has been retrieved from blogs or forums in internet or taken from the relevant literature on the topic. A data-base of examples has been created that exemplifies the main characteristics of the manipulations. In this first part the data is described in detail and a classification of the language plays is proposed. The structural description of the data reveals that it is possible to distinguish three basic types of language plays, each of them with various subtypes. In all these types the syllable and the subsyllabic constituents play a decisive role, hence providing evidence that these constituents are part of the phonological representations the speakers are endowed with and thus confirming their psychological reality. Stress plays un important role as well, since it appears to be used in the language plays under investigation to focus the attention of the listener on the units which are important for the decoding of the manipulated string. The second part of the thesis is concerned with verifying the main hypothesis that language plays are similar to morpho-prosodic processes found in natural languages. All types of language plays make use of prosodic constituents (syllables, feet). It is foremost this property that is linking language plays to linguistic processes in natural languages such as reduplication or truncation, where prosodic constraints are interacting with word formation processes. The Theory of Prosodic Morphology Theory (McCarthy & Prince 1986/96 et. seq.) provides the general theoretical framework for our analysis, since this theory is primarily concerned with phenomena where morphology is influenced by prosodic constraints, such as e.g. reduplication, truncation, blends, etc. The analysis proper is modeled in the framework of Optimality Theory. Against this theoretical and methodological background and by comparing the structure of German language plays with phenomena observable in other languages it is possible to identify in the language plays processes similar to those of reduplication and truncation, common to natural language morphology outside the range of language plays. The analogies concern for example the distribution of affixes, the structure of the reduplicative morpheme (CV or CVC) and the use of templates, that is prosodic constituents with prespecified structure containing both fixed and reduplicative material. The grammar of language plays and the grammer of natural languages therefore look similar, whereas on the other side language plays do not exhibit clearly “a-grammatical” rules involving for example counting. Considering also the fact that language plays are used in oral communication, which means that the processing of data has to occur as rapidly as the processing of data in natural speech, it seems that this phenomenon can not be dismissed as purely meta-linguistic.
I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.