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This article reports on a syntactic acceptability judgement study of 59 adult L2/Ln learners of Norwegian and a group of native controls, studying subject and object shift. These constructions involve movement of (mainly) pronominal subjects or objects across negation/adverbs. Both subject shift and object shift display considerable micro-variation in terms of syntax and information structure, dependent on factors such as nominal type (pronoun vs. full DP), function (subject vs. object), and information status (given vs. new/focused). Previous studies have shown that Norwegian children have an early preference for the unshifted position in both constructions, but that they acquire subject shift relatively early (before age 3). Object shift, on the other hand, is typically not in place until after age 6–7. Importantly, children are conservative learners, and never shift elements that should not move in the adult language. The results of the current study show that L2/Ln learners do not make all the fine distinctions that children make, in that they have a clear preference for all subjects in shifted position and all objects in unshifted position, although some distinctions fall into place with increased proficiency. Importantly, unlike children, the L2/Ln learners are not conservative learners; rather, they over-accept syntactic movement in several cases. The equivalent to this in language production would be to apply syntactic movement where it is not attested in the target language, which would be the opposite behaviour to that observed in L1 children.
This special issue of the Nordic Journal of Linguistics is devoted to articles on a construction which since Holmberg (1986) has been referred to as object shift. Whereas sentential adverbs normally precede the object in Scandinavian, as shown in (1a), they tend to follow the object, when it is a pronoun, as in (1b).
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.
This short communication presents a general overview of facts concerning wh-extraction from V2 clauses in the Scandinavian languages. While extraction from V2 clauses with a fronted non-subject is impossible in all of these languages, three classes can be distinguished with regard to extraction from subject-initial V2 clauses.
Northern Norwegian (NN) allows verbs to precede adverbs in non-V2 contexts, whereas in Standard Norwegian (StN) verbs have to follow adverbs. These facts are discussed with respect to three different approaches to clausal structure. NN is problematic for a head movement account (cf. Cinque 1999) because multiple verbs may precede a given adverb, leading to violations of the Head Movement Constraint. A multiple positions account (cf. Ernst 2002, Svenonius 2002) would assume that any adverb in StN and NN can be adjoined to high positions, which may be problematic with respect to scope relations. A remnant movement approach (cf. Nilsen 2003) can account for both StN and much of the NN data by means of one generalisation, but a separate generalisation is needed for finite verbs in NN. Thus, all three approaches are faced with challenges with respect to the Norwegian data. However, it is argued that the remnant movement approach seems the most promising of the three approaches.
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