Word Order in Övdalian : A Study in Variation and Change.

Piotr Garbacz

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)

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This dissertation discusses aspects of the syntax of Övdalian, a variety spoken by ca. 2,500 people in the province of Dalecarlia in Sweden. Initially, an overview of the history and current status of the language of Älvdalen is given, and the focus of the dissertation is on certain syntactic phenomena that have been well studied from a comparative and diachronic perspective in other Scandinavian languages but not in Övdalian. The examined variant of Övdalian is the one spoken by people born between the 1920’s and the 1940’s and it is called Traditional Övdalian. The empirical data were collected by means on elicitation of grammaticality judgements from twelve native speakers of Traditional Övdalian. These new data are analysed within a general Principal and Parameters approach and the point of departure is the framework of Holmberg & Platzack (1995) who argue that a number of word order phenomena depend on two morphological parameters: subject-verb agreement and morphological case. Övdalian word order is also compared with the word order of the other Scandinavian languages and an underlying syntactic structure of Övdalian is proposed. The main focus of the dissertation lies on two phenomena that have often been connected to verbal morphology, that is V-to-I movement and Stylistic Fronting, which were both present in Övdalian at the beginning of the 20th century. It is shown that V-to-I movement has become optional in Övdalian during the last hundred years in absence of any change in the verbal morphology, and the ongoing loss of V-to-I movement is argued to be triggered by a high, pre-subject negation (and sentential adverbial) placement. This placement gives no clue to the speakers as to whether the finite verb is raised to I or not. Stylistic Fronting is lost in Traditional Övdalian and it is maintained that this loss is connected to the changed status of the landing site of Stylistic Fronting, that is Spec,TP. While Spec,TP was a position accessible to many syntactical constituents in older Övdalian, it has later become a position to which only the subject may move. This explains the loss of SF in the absence of changes in the verbal morphology.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Centre for Languages and Literature
  • Platzack, Christer, Supervisor
Award date2010 Apr 10
ISBN (Print)978-91-628-8068-2
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2010-04-10
Time: 10:15
Place: Hörsalen, Språk- och litteraturcentrum, Helgonabacken 12, Lund

External reviewer(s)

Name: Heycock, Caroline
Title: Professor
Affiliation: University of Edinburgh


The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Centre for Languages and Literature (015016000), Swedish (015011001)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Languages and Literature

Free keywords

  • Stylistic Fronting
  • V-to-I movement
  • Swedish dialects
  • dialect syntax
  • language change
  • variation
  • älvdalsmålet
  • Övdalian
  • Elfdalian
  • the Rich Agreement Hypothesis
  • negative concord


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