"Disagreeing" pronominal reference in Swedish and the interplay between formal and semantic gender

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper investigates two types of apparent disagreement phenomena in Swedish: cross-sentential reference when a pronoun and its antecedent seem to disagree in formal gender (and sometimes also in number), and "topic doubling", i.e. when a clause initial noun phrase is doubled by a pronoun that appears to have a different formal gender (and sometimes also number) specification. In order to explain the apparent disagreement, the feature set-up of the four non-plural 3(rd) person pronouns is examined. It is argued that Swedish has two versions of the 3(rd) person pronouns det (it.neut) 'it' and den (it.common) 'it', one referential pronoun (R-pronoun) and one syntactic pronoun (S-pronoun). S-pronouns make reference to linguistic entities, whereas R-pronouns link directly to discourse entities. It is also argued that the R-pronoun dot (it.neuter) 'it', which is used in the two "disagreement" constructions, is 'deficient and lacks a number feature. A four-way semantic gender system is proposed, each gender corresponding to a pronoun. It is proposed that formal gender features are not present in the narrow syntax, but added post-syntactically. The role of formal gender is to render visible the presence or absence of other features, in particular number. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Languages and Literature


  • Topic, Anaphoric pronouns, Disagreement, Formal gender, Semantic gender, doubling, Cross-sentential reference
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2095-2120
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Publication categoryResearch

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)