LINGUIST List 14.557

Tue Feb 25 2003

Diss: Historical Ling: Sundquist "Morphosyntactic..."

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  1. jsundqui, Historical Ling: Sundquist "Morphosyntactic Change..."

Message 1: Historical Ling: Sundquist "Morphosyntactic Change..."

Date: Mon, 24 Feb 2003 18:27:42 +0000
From: jsundqui <jsundquipurdue.edu>
Subject: Historical Ling: Sundquist "Morphosyntactic Change..."


New Dissertation Abstract

Institution: Indiana University
Program: Department of Germanic Studies
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2002
Author: John D. Sundquist 
Dissertation Title: Morphosyntactic Change in the History of the
Mainland Scandinavian Languages

Linguistic Field: Historical Linguistics

Dissertation Director 1: Rex A Sprouse
Dissertation Director 2: Kari Ellen Gade
Dissertation Director 3: Robert D. Fulk
Dissertation Director 4: Barbara Vance

Dissertation Abstract: 

This thesis is a diachronic study of the interaction of morphological
and syntactic changes in the history of Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish
conducted within the Principles-and-Parameters/Minimalist theoretical
framework. It focuses on the period between 1200 and 1700 in the
history of Mainland Scandinavian, when syncretism spread throughout
the nominal and verbal inflectional paradigms at the same time that
the relatively free word order of Old Norse became restricted. The
main goal of the study is to challenge the standard assumption in
early, pre-generative studies and in recent diachronic generative
analyses of Scandinavian syntax that there is a direct, causal
relationship between the loss of inflectional distinctions, or
deflection, and changes in the word order.

Each chapter analyzes a different change in word order that has,
according to previous diachronic studies, been triggered by
deflection. The first part of the thesis examines the loss of OV-word
order and the status of Object Shift during the period of robust case
deflection in Middle Norwegian (1275-1525). Quantitative analysis
indicates that non-pronominal Object Shift was the same in earlier
stages as in Modern Norwegian, and that Middle Norwegian had both
head-initial and head-final VP-structures and exhibited a type of
semantically driven leftward movement akin to Scrambling in Yiddish
and German. It is argued that the ultimate catalyst for the loss of
OV-word order between 1450 and 1525 is language contact with Middle
Danish rather than case deflection.

The second part of the study examines Stylistic Fronting and the loss
of verb raising (V-to-I movement) in embedded clauses in Old Swedish
(1220-1375) and Early Modern Danish (1500-1700). Weak and strong
versions of the Rich Agreement Hypothesis and the Split-IP parameter
are evaluated in light the diachronic data, and it is shown that high
frequency of structurally ambiguous word-strings such as those
produced by Stylistic Fronting of adverbials, and not the breakdown in
subject-verb agreement inflection, is responsible for introducing the
modern embedded-clause word order into the speech community.
Statistical analysis supports the hypothesis that individuals may have
access to more than one grammar and that periods of syntactic change
can be described in terms of grammatical competition.
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