On November 9, at 11:30, in the upstairs conference room of the Linguistics Department (Marie Mount Hall) professor of linguistics and director of CASTL at the University of Tromsø, Marit Westergaard, will be giving a talk. Lunch will be provided. The abstract is included below.
Word order development in English and Norwegian: Micro-cues, information structure and economy
University of Tromsø – CASTL
This paper considers the loss of verb second (V2) word order in the history of English and present-day Norwegian dialects with a particular focus on the question why it survives in certain contexts. I argue against a parametric approach to V2 word order and classify both English and Norwegian as mixed V2 grammars, i.e. grammars which require V2 in some contexts and non-V2 in others. Within an approach to language acquisition and change that is based on the existence of micro-cues in children’s I-language grammars, some acquisition data are considered, showing that mixed V2 systems are easily learnable. Discussing some historical data from Old and Middle English (OE/ME) as well as synchronic variation in Norwegian, I argue that the choice between the two word orders is due to a productive syntactic rule which is sensitive to information structure. The loss of this rule as well as the survival of certain remnant cases are discussed in relation to processes in first language acquisition.