Towards a comparative historical dialectology:
evidence from morphology and syntax

Workshop at the DGfS conference Tübingen, February 23–25, 2022


Jan. 2022
Slightly revised program ( Download the PDF)

Nov. 2021
Due to the Corona pandemic, DGfS22 has been rescheduled to Zoom
DGfS22 open for registration. Early bird rate until 31.01.2022.


Aim and focus

Dialect syntax was long considered the stepchild of dialectology (see Glaser 2000). In the meantime, this gap has been reduced, especially in relation to the modern Germanic and Romance dialects. Now it is about time to leave the comfort zone of modern dialects and to establish a historical dialect syntax and morphology. We explicitly seek for a historical dialectology as dialects are more natural than standard/written languages (Weiß 2009). An overarching goal would be a comparative compilation of these results from the individual varieties to gain general knowledge about language change.

The feasibility of a historical comparative dialectology is demonstrated by numerous phonological studies (cf. Cravens 2002). For syntax and morphology, however, we have just begun to identify and analyze historical oral varieties using fine scaled geolinguistic, statistical, and philological methods.

Therefore, there is a need to unite experts in different varieties, grammatical structures, and fields (dialectology, typology, and historical linguistics) to discuss basic questions towards a historical comparative dialect syntax and morphology:

– Are there formal or functional similarities/differences between cross-linguistic phenomena such as negation, case, word order, object marking, auxiliaries, definiteness, etc.?

– How to identify historical dialects and which types of sources are suitable for a historical comparative dialectology?

– Which (geo-)statistical methods can help to model conclusions about language change processes?

The workshop aims to establish a network for theoretically informed researchers from different linguistic fields.


Abstracts for oral presentations (20 minutes talk + discussion) must be anonymous and not exceed 500 words. References do not count toward the word count. Abstracts should clearly state the research question(s), approach, method, data and (expected) results. Please submit your anonymous abstract via: EasyChair.

Extended deadline for abstract submission: August 22, 2021

Additional information


Notification of acceptance: September 15, 2021.

Registration is possible here.


Cravens, Thomas D. (2002): Comparative Historical Dialectology. Italo-Romance clues to Ibero-Romance sound change. (Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 231). Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Glaser, Elvira (2000): Erhebungsmethoden dialektaler Syntax. In: Stellmacher, Dieter (Hrsg.): Dialektologie zwischen Tradition und Neuansatz. Stuttgart: Steiner, 258–276.

Weiß, Helmut (2009): How to define dialect and language. A proposal for further discussion. Linguistische Berichte 219, 251–270.