Swedish predicative oblique case: default or not?

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This article describes and discusses an ongoing change of case marking, NOM(inative) > OBL(ique), in certain predicates in Swedish (type “Then you can be I” > “Then you can be me”). This change has gone largely unnoticed hitherto. The discussion is based on a large-scale online survey, conducted in May 2016. It was tested whether the change relates to finiteness or to semantics. The results strongly indicate that the latter is the case. The change is found in predicates that express role semantics but nondetectable in predicates with plain identity readings (type “It is I”). In addition, there are strong indications that the change is closely related to another change that is also taking place in Swedish, NOM > OBL in comparative phrases (type “She is bigger than I” > “She is bigger than me”). The results speak against the hypothesis that OBL is becoming default in Swedish. Instead, it seems that many speakers are reanalyzing role predicates as well as comparative phrases such that they contain a head that is a case assigner, an overt one in comparatives but a silent one in role predicates. The article concludes that Swedish is largely retaining its basic NOM-OBL case system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-206
JournalActa Linguistica Hafniensia
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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