Syntaktisk variation och förändring: En studie av subjektslösa satser i fornsvenska

David Håkansson

Forskningsoutput: AvhandlingDoktorsavhandling (monografi)

101 Nedladdningar (Pure)


The topic of this thesis is subjectless clauses in Old Swedish (1225–1526). The thesis focuses on referential subjects, and addresses the problem of why the possibilities to leave out such subjects have been reduced during the history of Swedish. The dissertation consists of three main parts, divided into eight chapters. In the first part, chapters 1–3, the aims are presented and a theoretical background to the research on diachronic syntax is given. Furthermore, a brief overview presents the main trends in scientific work in this area, in which two main directions crystallize: on the one hand theories that have related subject omission to morphological factors and on the other hand theories that regard contextual aspects as crucial.
Chapter 4 presents the second part of the thesis and consists of an empirical study of subjectless clauses in the history of Swedish. A corpus of about 193,400 words was collected from 12 Old Swedish texts, and on the basis of a random sample, a variable rule analysis was carried out. Although the investigations show that subjectless clauses occur most frequently in Early Old Swedish (1225–1375), the most striking change in the use of subjectless clauses during Old Swedish seems to be related to the subject position (Spec, IP): whereas referential subjects could be omitted from this position in Early Old Swedish, corresponding subjectless clauses are uncommon in Late Old Swedish. Since this change takes place before the loss of person agreement, it seems reasonable to assume that this syntactic change cannot be related to deflection.
The central task of the third part of the thesis, presented in chapters 5–8, is to explain why subject omission from Spec, IP has been limited in Swedish. It is argued that omission of subjects in verb second main clauses and subordinate clauses is an effect of movement strategies. Whereas the movement to Spec, IP is syntactically determined in Modern Swedish, the corresponding move is pragmatically determined in Early Old Swedish. Within the framework of Principles and Parameters, a formalized description of this difference is given. It is assumed that the uninterpretable subject feature in the I-domain in Early Old Swedish does not carry EPP and therefore can be eliminated without visible movement, whereas this feature carries EPP in Modern Swedish and therefore must be removed by a visible movement of the subject to Spec, IP. The change from a pragmatically to a syntactically determined movement to Spec, IP is related to a change in frequency patterns, in turn triggered by the loss of OV word order in Swedish.
Tilldelande institution
  • Avdelningen för svenska, danska och isländska, tolkning i offentlig sektor och översättning
  • Platzack, Christer, handledare
Tilldelningsdatum2008 mars 15
ISBN (tryckt)978-91-628-7406-3
StatusPublished - 2008

Bibliografisk information

Defence details

Date: 2008-03-15
Time: 10:15
Place: Humanisthusets hörsal, Språk- och litteraturcentrum, Helgonabacken 12, Lund

External reviewer(s)

Name: Åfarli, Tor Anders
Title: Professor
Affiliation: Institutt for nordistikk og litteraturvitenskap, Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet, Trondheim


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

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Språk och litteratur

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