Adjectives in German and Norwegian

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


In this paper, we demonstrate that adjective endings in the Germanic languages do not pattern uniformly. We illustrate this with nine syntactic contexts: possessives involving proper names and pronominals, embedded and unembedded proper names, “disagreeing” pronominal DPs, appositives, definite adjectives, vocatives, and discontinuous noun phrases. We show that German is subject to lexical and structural conditions but Scandinavian is semantic in nature. In German, the weak endings are feature-reduced forms which always have a specific local relation to a certain type of determiner, which triggers the relevant feature reduction. Adopting Distributed Morphology, this reduction in features is implemented by Impoverishment. In Scandinavian, the weak endings are an agreement reflex with a semantic feature have semantics of their own. We follow others in that adjectives are in – what is traditionally called – Spec,AgrP. We propose that the relevant semantic feature is in Agr and the adjective agrees with it. Given the language-specific conditions, the strong endings surface in the remaining contexts in both types of languages as the elsewhere case.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Languages and Literature


  • adjectives strong weak, morphology, definiteness, German, Norwegian
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdjectives in Germanic and Romance
EditorsPetra Sleeman, Freek van de Velde, Harry Perridon
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
ISBN (Print)9789027255952
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch

Publication series

ISSN (Print)0166-0829

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Swedish (015011001)