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Object Shift in spoken Mainland Scandinavian: A corpus study of Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 September 2013

Kristine Bentzen
Department of Language and Linguistics, University of Tromsø, N-9037 Tromsø, Norway.
Merete Anderssen
Department of Language and Linguistics, University of Tromsø, N-9037 Tromsø, Norway.
Christian Waldmann
Department of Language Studies, Umeå University, SE-901 87 Umeå, Sweden.
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Recent work on Object Shift (OS) suggests that this is not as uniform an operation as traditionally assumed. In this paper, we examine OS in the spontaneous speech of adults in large Danish, Norwegian and Swedish child language corpora in order to explore variation with respect to OS across these three languages. We evaluate our results against three recent strands of accounts of OS, namely a prosodic/phonological account, an account in terms of cognitive status, and an account in terms of information structure. Our investigation shows that there is both within-language and across-language variation in the application of OS, and that the three accounts can explain some of our data. However, all accounts are faced with challenges, especially when explaining exceptional cases.

Research Article
Copyright © Nordic Association of Linguistics 2013 

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