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Call for papers: NJL Special Issue on Object Shift in the Nordic Languages

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 August 2012

Maia Andréasson
Dept. of Swedish, University of Gothenburg, Box 200, SE-405 30 Gothenburg,
Kristine Bentzen
CASTL, Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education, University of Tromsø, N-9037 Tromsø,
Elisabet Engdahl
Dept. of Swedish, University of Gothenburg, Box 200, SE-405 30 Gothenburg,


Call for Papers
Copyright © Nordic Association of Linguistics 2012

Object shift is the term used for examples like (1), where an object occurs to the left of a sentential adverb, rather than in its canonical position further right in the clause:

  1. (1)

In Danish, Faroese, Norwegian and Swedish, object shift is restricted to pronouns and pronominal adverbs, but in Icelandic also definite noun phrases may shift, under certain circumstances.

  1. (2)

Ever since Anders Holmberg's dissertation (1986), object shift has been much discussed in various linguistic frameworks and a number of analyses have been put forward. The discussions have centred around the interaction between syntax and phonology, the role of linearization constraints in grammar, stylistic processes, optionality, as well as information-structural conditions.

Another much discussed aspect of object shift is the variation found across languages, including the question whether different generalisations concerning object placement (including e.g. cliticisation) can be seen as related to object shift. The variation within the Scandinavian languages is also intriguing; full NP object shift is only found in Icelandic. Whereas pronominal object shift has been claimed to be obligatory in Danish, Icelandic and Norwegian, it appears to be optional in standard Swedish and even absent in Finland Swedish as well as in some dialects in Sweden (e.g. Övdalian). However, the actual patterns of variation remain largely unknown, as does the historical development of the construction.

We welcome papers on all aspects of object shift, in particular papers that broaden the empirical base for the theoretical claims, investigate the extent of the variation and discuss its possible causes. Some possible issues:

  • Is it correct to say that object shift is obligatory in some Scandinavian languages and optional in others? Or is the optionality an indication that the conditions that trigger object shift are more complex than has hitherto been proposed?

  • Acquisition studies on Norwegian and Swedish children show that object shift is acquired fairly late (around age 7 years). Do we find parallels in the acquisition of the other Scandinavian languages or in the acquisition of potentially related phenomena such as cliticisation?

  • In what ways does the type of antecedent for pronominal objects affect whether they are shifted or not?

  • How has Scandinavian object shift developed historically?

  • Are there any connections between Scandinavian object shift and Germanic scrambling or with related phenomena in the other Nordic languages?

The deadline for the submission of manuscripts is 1 January 2013. Manuscripts should be sent to one of the guest editors:

  • Kristine Bentzen


  • Faculty of Humanities,

  • Social Sciences and Education

  • University of Tromsø

  • N-9037 Tromsø

  • Norway