TitleOblique Subjects and Stylistic Fronting in the History of Scandinavian and English: The Role of IP-Spec
NameHrafnbjargarson, Gunnar Hrafn (Author), University of Aarhus,
SubjectScandinavian languages and literature,
loss of case morphology,
loss of v-to-i movement,
Grammar, Comparative and general--Morphology
DescriptionThe thesis discusses three morphosyntactic changes in Danish, Faroese, Norwegian, Swedish and English, namely the loss of morphological case, loss of V-to-I movement and the loss of stylistic fronting. The changes are observed on the basis of Icelandic which has kept all three characteristics.The hypothesis is that even though the loss of morphological case causes the loss of DAT-NOM constructions (i.e. sentences with a dative subject and a nominative object), these constructions are not 'normalized' (made into NOM-ACC) in one step, but rather through a systematic process which consists of two different changes. Old English had and Icelandic still has sentences with a dative subject and nominative object, in Old and Middle Danish, Middle English and Faroese, these constructions have changed to sentences with a dative subject and an accusative object and in Present Day English, Danish, etc. they have gone one step further and changed to sentences with a nominative subject and an accusative object. The synchronic part of the discussion about the DAT-NOM construction attempts to explain how the finite verb can show agreement with the nominative object, why non-nominative subjects must be animate and furthermore, why nominative objects can only be third person. The other construction that is discussed is stylistic fronting. Firstly it is shown that stylistic fronting was possible in Old and Middle Danish, and that the loss of stylistic fronting first took place after the loss of V-to-I movement. The synchronic analysis of stylistic fronting is that stylistic fronting is driven by an abstract focus feature and that it is movement into an articulated CP domain. This makes it possible to explain why stylistic fronting can have a semantic effect and why there is a difference in the possibility of stylistic fronting in clauses without a phonetically realized subject and clauses with a weak subject pronoun. If it is further assumed that the articulated CP domain depends on the presence of V-to-I movement, it is possible to establish a connection between the loss of stylistic fronting and the loss of V-to-I movement. The two theoretical frameworks used in the thesis are Optimality Theory and the Minimalist Program.
NoteThe research reported in this thesis was partially supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) as part of the Graduiertenkolleg Linguistic representations and their interpretation at the University of Stuttgart (May 2000 - January 2002), and partially with a grant from the Danish Research Council for the Humanities (SHF, grant # 25-01-0467, February 2002 - January 2004).
NoteText in English. Title and preliminary quotation also in Danish.
CollectionRutgers Optimality Archive
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work