Showing posts with label syntax. Show all posts
Showing posts with label syntax. Show all posts

29 August 2014

Linguist makes sensational claim: English is a Scandinavian language

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Visual-definition of "north-germanic", created by me, using Snappy Words "Free Visual Dictionary"

Published, edited, annotations/commentary (in red) by Kenneth S. Doig

Linguist makes sensational claim: English is a Scandinavian language

November 27, 2012 (websource)
University of Oslo(University of Oslo. "Linguist makes sensational claim: English is a Scandinavian language." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 November 2012. <>.)
"Have you considered how easy it is for us Norwegians to learn English?" asks Jan Terje Faarlund, professor of linguistics at the University of Oslo. "Obviously there are many English words that resemble ours. 

17 January 2014

The World Atlas of Language Structures (WALS) : Afrikaans

Family: Indo-European "IE" / Genus: Germanic "Gmc"

The World-Atlas of Language Structures (WALS) is a large database of structural (phonological, grammatical, lexical) properties of languages gathered from descriptive materials (such as reference grammars) by a team of 55 authors.

Published, edited, formatted & images added by Kenneth S. Doig

Language Afrikaans

(from WALS)

06 August 2012

Proto-Indo-European Syntax (Part 1)


Proto-Indo-European Syntax

Winfred P. Lehmann (professor emeritus, Univ. of Texas at Austin, Linguistics Research Dept.)
(Winfred P. Lehmann, Director :: PCL 5.112, 1 University Station S5490 :: Austin, TX 78712 :: 512-471-4566) 

1. The Syntactic Framework

1.1. Earlier Syntactic Treatments of PIE.

When we concern ourselves with the syntax of Proto-Indo-European

22 November 2011



by S. Iatridou & A. Kroch (DEC 1992)

Since the work of den Besten (1977, 1983), the standard generative analysis of the verb-second phenomenon has involved movement of the tensed verb to C0, immediately following a topic that has been fronted to [SPEC, CP], as in (1):(1) [CP topic-i [C' verb-j [IP ...t-i...t-j]]]

20 October 2011


The origin and evolution of word order

Recent work in comparative linguistics suggests that all, or almost all, attested human languages may derive from a single earlier language. If that is so, then this language—like nearly all extant languages—most likely had a basic ordering of the subject (S), verb (V), and object (O) in a declarative sentence of the type “the man (S) killed (V) the bear (O).” When one compares the distribution of the existing structural types with the putative phylogenetic tree of human languages, four conclusions may be drawn. (i) The word order in the ancestral language was SOV. (ii) Except for cases of diffusion, the direction of syntactic change, when it occurs, has been for the most part SOV > SVO and, beyond that, SVO > VSO/VOS with

25 August 2011

Swedish particles and directional prepositions, Svenonius, P. PhD, U of Tromsö

Swedish particles and directional
Peter Svenonius PhD,  Professor & Senior Researcher,Department of Linguistics, CASTL
Faculty of HumanitiesUniversity of Tromsø

1. English: Prepositions and particle

As is well known, the grammar of English distinguishes between particles and
prepositions (both of which I will abbreviate P; see Emonds 1985). A P–DP
string after a verb, like those in (1), is in principle ambiguous. Particle shift,
seen in (2), constituency tests, illustrated in (3), and Heavy NP Shift, as in (4),
distinguish particles from prepositions.

(1) a. The professor ran up a hill.
b. The professor ran up a bill.
(2) a. *The professor ran a hill up.
b. The professor ran a bill up.
(3) a. Up which hill did he run first?
b. *Up which bill did he run first?
(4) a. *The professor ran up yesterday the biggest hill in Skåne.
b. The professor ran up yesterday the biggest bill in Skåne.
In some cases one test or another fails; for example the prepositional phrase in
(5a) does not pass constituency tests, as indicated in (5b-d).
(5) a. I thought of a problem.
b. *Of which problem did you think?
c. *Of that problem, I never thought.
d. *It was of a problem that I thought.
However, (5a) clearly does not undergo particle shift or HNPS, consistent with
its prepositional status. Traditionally, English grammarians take particle shift as
a more important diagnostic than constituency tests.

2. Swedish prepositions and particles
Swedish grammars also distinguish prepositions from particles, and there as in
English there are many elements which belong to both categories (for example
på ‘on,’ av ‘off,’ i ‘in’; see e.g. Ejerhed 1981, Norén 1996). Often the examples
can be translated directly into English prepositional and particle constructions.

(6) a. De bor i en liten lägenhet.
they live in a small apartment
b. Vi hällde i lite mera mjölk.
we poured in a.little more milk
Swedish does not have any particle shift alternation, and DP–P order is bad in
both cases.1

(7) a. *De bor en lägenhet i.
they live an apartment in
b. *Vi hällde lite mera mjölk i.
we poured a.little more milk in
However, other diagnostics do serve to distinguish PPs from particles, for
example constituency tests.
(8) a. I en liten lägenhet bor de nuförtiden.
in a small apartment live they nowadays
b. *I lite mera mjölk hällde vi då.
in a.little more milk poured we then
As in English, HNPS can affect direct objects (as in (9a)) but not prepositional
complements (as in (9b)).

(9) a. ?Vi måste hälla i med det samma tre bägare med mjölk.
we pour in with the same three cartons with milk
‘We had to pour in at once three cartons of milk’
b. *De måste bo i för ögonblicket en liten lägenhet i staden.
we live in for the.moment a little apartment in
Just as in English, these tests can be difficult to apply in certain cases. As
mentioned in §1, the most reliable distinction between particles and prepositions
in English appears to be particle shift. In Swedish grammars, the most reliable
distinction is taken to be stress placement. The P i ‘in’ in (6a) is unstressed,
whereas the P in (6b) is stressed. This is systematic for Swedish particles.
Another contrasting pair is given in (10), where om in (10a) is a preposition and
unstressed, and om in (10b) is a particle and bears a phrasal stress.

1 Swedish does have small clause constructions, e.g. Maria skjutsar henne hem ‘Maria drives
her home’ (from Toivonen 2001), some of which alternate with particle constructions with P–
DP order (Maria skjutsar hem henne), giving rise to particle alternations (see Vinka 1999) for
a certain set of verb-particle combinations, subject to speaker variation.

(10) a. Hon skrev inte om musik.
she wrote not about music
‘She didn’t write about music’
b. Hon skrev inte om avhandlingen.
she wrote not over the.dissertation
‘She didn’t write her dissertation over again’
3. Directional P in Swedish
Relying on stress as a diagnostic leads to the surprising result that many
constructions which in English are straightforwardly prepositional translate into
Swedish as constructions which Swedish grammarians call particle
constructions; for example, all of the examples in (11) have stress on P.
(11) a. Fågeln flög på fönsteret.
the.bird flew on the.window
‘The bird flew into the window’ (crashed into the window flying)
b. Hon gick över gatan.
she went over the.street
‘She crossed the street’
c. Vi hoppade i vattnet.
we jumped in the.water
‘We jumped into the water’

Systematically, P with a directional meaning bears stress in Swedish, contrasting
with locative P which does not. Example (11b), read without stress on P, has the
strange meaning ‘she walked above the street,’ and example (11c) with
stressless P also has a locative meaning, e.g. ‘we jumped (up and down) in the

Despite the tradition of classing all stressed P together as particles, there is
evidence internal to Swedish that directional Ps like those in (11) have a
different syntax from particle constructions like those in (6b) and (10a). In this
paper I will deviate from the Swedish terminological convention and use the
term ‘directional P’ for constructions of the type in (11) (including certain
idiomatic constructions), reserving the term particle construction for the type in
(6b) and (10a).

Although PP sometimes fails constituency tests (as mentioned in §1),
examples can often be constructed to show that directional P’s form PPs with
their associated DPs, e.g. as in (12).2 This is never true for particles of the sort
that translate into English particles.

2 In these examples the characteristic stress of the directional preposition is not evident; in
(12a) it is attracted by the degree word rätt ‘right,’ and in (12b) it is masked by the contrastive
focus on the whole PP, which falls by regular stress assignment rules on the noun.
(12) a. Rätt på fönstret flög fåglarna.
right on the.window flew the.birds
‘Right into the window flew the birds’
b. Det var över gatan hon gick.
it was over the.street she went
‘It was across the street that she went’

HNPS gives somewhat ambiguous results; some speakers reject HNPS of the
DP after a directional P, but others find the contrast between (13) and (9a) less
salient (I use a slash to separate two different groups of judgments).
(13) a. */?Han har brakat i många gånger alla staket runt posthuset.
he has crashed in many times all fences around
b. */?Vi måste gå över med det samma alla gatorna som kommer ut
we go over with the same all the.streets as come out
från flygplatsen.

from the.airport (“with the same” = ‘at once’)
A test which generally does demonstrate a contrast between Swedish particle
constructions of the English type and Swedish directional prepositions is
incorporation under passive: particles generally incorporate in the periphrastic
passive, while directional and locative prepositions generally do not.3

(14) a. Mjölken blev ihälld.
the.milk was in.poured
b. *Lägenheten blev ibodd.
the.apartment was in.lived
c. *Vattnet blev ihoppat.
the.water was in.jumped
These results can be arranged in a table showing to what extent directional P
patterns with particles and to what extent it patterns with locative P:
Locative PP Directional PP Particle
Stress on P no (10a) yes (11) yes (10b)
HNPS no (9b) % (13) yes (9a)
P–DP is a constituent yes (8a) yes (12) no (8b)
P–V in passive no (14b) no (14c) yes (14a)

3 Apparent counterexamples, such as Det blev omtalat, literally ‘it was about.talked,’ are
usually passives of verbs which are incorporated in the active: omtala ‘mention.’ Another
source of apparent counterexamples is lexicalized compound adjectives such as omtyckt,
literally ‘about.thought’ meaning ‘popular,’ related to the prepositional verb tycka om ‘like.’
4. Analysis: P moves

If directional P and particles have different syntax, then, why do they share a
stress pattern? Taking particles to be predicates in a small clause structure of the
form [SC DP [PP P ]] (as in Kayne 1985), the P–DP order in Swedish can be
derived by movement of P to the left into a functional position (cf. Svenonius
1996a, Ramchand & Svenonius 2002). It is clear that this movement does not
involve actual cliticization, given the systematic separation of P from V under
V2 (cf. (10b)); furthermore, reflexives appear between V and P in many cases.4
There is also independent motivation for head movement of directional P,
from English, where directional P sometimes shows an overtly incorporated
Path head to; while a sentence like we jumped in the lake is ambiguously
directional or locative, we jumped into the lake is unambiguously directional
and plausibly involves movement of spatial in to a directional head to.
This can be diagrammed as in (16) (cf. van Riemsdijk 1990, Koopman

(16) a. We jumped [PLACE in the lake].
b. We jumped [PATH in(to) [PLACE t the lake]].
Compare Swedish, where (17a) is disambiguated by stress, and (17b), with the
overt directional particle in, is unambiguously directional.
(17) a. Vi hoppade i vattnet.
we jumped in the water
b. Vi hoppade in i vattnet.
we jumped into in the water

Assuming that Swedish and English have the same functional structure, the
locative reading of (17a) can be diagrammed as in (18a), and the directional
reading as in (18b); the Path head in (18b) attracts the P, and carries a stress
accent in Swedish. (18c) is the structure for (17c), where the Path head is
pronounced in, and does not attract P (unlike English to).

(18) a. hoppa [PLACE i [DP vattnet]]
b. hoppa [PATH i-Path0 [PLACE t [DP vattnet ]]]
c. hoppa [PATH in [PLACE i [DP vattnet]]]
(See also Tungseth 2002 on the very similar structure of Norwegian PPs.) There
is always stress of the Path head, falling on i in (18b) but on in in (18c). This
4 E.g. Hon har armbågat sig in (i mängden) ‘She has elbowed herself in(to the crowd).’
Thanks to Ida Toivonen and Anders Holmberg for (independently) bringing the reflexive
examples to my attention. See Toivonen (2001) and Josefsson (1998) for discussion of the
differences between (standard) cliticization and the prosodic association of the Swedish
particle with the verb.

stress could be derived structurally, through a remnant movement analysis
(giving the structure [ hoppa [[PATH i t ] [[DP vattnet] ... ]]] for (18b), with P
heading a phrase by itself in a stressed specifier position), but I assume here an
autosegmental lexical analysis in which the Path head bears stress lexically.
If particles also move to or through the Path head, then the similar stress of
particles and directional prepositions can be captured. However, there is clearly
more to the story given that a particle plus a DP does not pass constituency tests,
while a directional PP does.

A clue about the nature of the difference is provided by the fact that
complements can in certain cases follow P in the particle position, to the left of
the direct object. Here the PP is bracketted (examples from Toivonen 2001).

(21) a. Vi tog [ifrån fången] friheten.
we took from the.prisoner the.freedom
‘We deprived the prisoner of his freedom’
b. Hunden sliter [av husse] mössan. tears off owner the.hat
‘The dog is tearing the hat off its owner’
c. Maria satte [på pojken] kläderna.
Maria set on the.boy the.clothes
‘Maria put the clothes on the boy’

It is clear that a phrasal movement is necessary for these cases. The simplest
analysis may then be that there is always phrasal movement in particle
constructions in Swedish (as in Vinka 1999; see also Taraldsen 2000 for
Norwegian). The impossibility of modifiers with moved particles suggests that
what moves is relatively small, e.g. PathP but not DegP (cf. Koopman 2000).
Thus, the full range of P constructions might look something like (22).

(22) a. Locative: live [PP in an apartment] (6a)
b. Directional: jump [PATH in [PP tP the water]]] (11c)
c. Particle: pour [AspP [PATH in [PP tP ]] Asp0 [SC the milk tPATH]] (6b)
d. Particle: put [AspP [PATH on [PP tP boy ]] Asp0 [SC clothes tPATHP]] (21c)
These structures can account for all the properties observed in the preceding
sections (cf. in particular the table at the end of §3).

Stress: P in (22b-d) occupies the Path head and is therefore stressed.
HNPS: In (22c-d) DP after the particle position (‘the milk’ and ‘clothes’
respectively) is in the small clause subject position, a position from which
HNPS is allowed; in (22a-b), HNPS is not expected as the DP (‘an apartment’
and ‘the water’) is a complement of P.

Constituency: As for constituency tests, the failure of P–DP to move in
(22c) is captured if AspP cannot move.
Passive: Finally, the passive incorporation in (22c-d) but not in (22a-b) is
captured if passive participles occupy Asp0 in Swedish, while active V moves to
a higher position.

Both English and Swedish have directional and locative PPs, with distinct
syntax, and both have particle constructions with direct objects. The grammar of
English makes the particle vs. PP distinctions salient, while the grammar of
Swedish sets the locative PPs apart from the directional PPs and classes the
latter with particles. Despite the fact that the salient distinction falls in two
different places, I hope to have shown here that the English distinction (also
manifest in Norwegian and the other Scandinavian languages) is present in
Swedish as well.

Thanks to Lars-Olof Delsing, Lena Liepe, Lennart Lönngren, Anders Holmberg, Ida
Toivonen, Mai Ellin Tungseth, Gillian Ramchand, and David Adger for discussion.
Thanks to Christer Platzack for inspiration, both for this work and for much else, right
from the start of my career as a generative linguist and on through our cooperation on the
IGLO project (see IGLO 2003), from his many important theoretical works to his work on the
reference grammars in the IGLO project. It is a pleasure and an honor to be able to
congratulate him on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

Ejerhed, Eva I. 1981. Swedish verb-particle constructions: Syntactic and semantic problems.
In Generative Studies in Swedish Syntax, University of Umeå.
Emonds, Joseph. 1985. A Unified Theory of Syntactic Categories. Dordrecht: Foris.
IGLO 2003. Public website organized by Peter Svenonius. http://tea.fernunihagen.
Koopman, Hilda. 2000. Prepositions, postpositions, circumpositions, and particles. In The
Syntax of Specifiers and Heads, by Hilda Koopman, 204-260. London: Routledge.
Norén, Kerstin. 1996. Svenska partikkelverbs semantik. PhD dissertation, University of
Gothenburg. Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis.
Ramchand, Gillian, and Peter Svenonius. 2002. The lexical syntax and lexical semantics of
the verb-particle construction. WCCFL 21 Proceedings, 387-400. Somerville, MA:
Cascadilla Press.
Riemsdijk, Henk van. 1990. Functional prepositions. In Unity in Diversity, ed. H. Pinkster
and I. Genée, 229-241. Dordrecht: Foris.
Svenonius, Peter. 1994. Dependent Nexus. PhD dissertation, University of California at Santa
Svenonius, Peter. 1996a. The verb-particle alternation in the Scandinavian languages. Ms.,
University of Tromsø.
Svenonius, Peter. 1996b. The optionality of the verb-particle construction. Working Papers in
Scandinavian Syntax 57:47-75.
Talmy, Leonard. 2001. Toward a Cognitive Semantics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Taraldsen, Tarald. 2000. V-movement and VP-movement in derivations leading to VO-order.
In The Derivation of VO and OV, ed. Peter Svenonius, 97-122. Amsterdam: John
Toivonen, Ida. 2001. The Phrase Structure of Non-projecting Words. PhD dissertation,
Stanford University.
Tungseth, Mai. 2002. PP, FP, and the telic/atelic distinction in Norwegian motion
constructions. Iowa Aspect conference proceedings.
Vinka, Mikael. 1999. Predicative and non-predicative verb particle constructions. WCCFL 18
Proceedings, 570-585. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
Peter Svenonius
CASTL/Department of Linguistics
Faculty of Humanities
University of Tromsø
N-9037 Tromsø, Norway

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