Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-8kt4b Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-14T09:20:34.602Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Optional word order in wh-questions in two Norwegian dialects: a diachronic analysis of synchronic variation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 November 2005

Marit R. Westergaard
Department of Language and Linguistics (CASTL), University of Tromsø, 9037 Tromsø, Norway. E-mail:
Get access


Based on a corpus of spontaneous production data, this paper compares the word order of wh-questions in two Norwegian dialects, Kåfjord and Tromsø. While the choice of word order (V2 or non-V2) in Tromsø is dependent on information structure, the Kåfjord speakers produce considerably more non-V2 in questions with monosyllabic wh-elements. The majority of questions with multisyllabic wh-constituents, on the other hand, occurs with V2. This synchronic variation is given a diachronic analysis within a Split-CP model of clause structure and a cue-based approach to acquisition and change, where an economy principle (head preference) also plays an important role. Furthermore, an information structure drift from V2 to non-V2 is argued to cause the cue for verb movement to fall below a critical level in the input to children, the result being that V2 only survives in lexically marked cases in Kåfjord, i.e. with the verb ‘be’.

Research Article
© 2005 Cambridge University Press

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)