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Linguistic Diversity and Social Justice

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Language Evolution: The Windows Approach

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Language Evolution: The Windows Approach addresses the question: "How can we unravel the evolution of language, given that there is no direct evidence about it?"


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Academic Paper


Title: Optional expletive subjects in Swedish
Author: Elisabet Engdahl
Institution: Göteborg University
Linguistic Field: Syntax
Subject Language: Swedish
Abstract: This article investigates the use of non-referential subjects in contemporary Swedish. Given that Swedish has developed a strong subject requirement, expletive subjects are expected to be used in all clauses which lack a referential subject. In spoken Swedish, however, expletive and quasi-argument subjects are optional in utterances where there is an initial det ‘it’ which is linked to an empty position inside a finite or non-finite complement. The paper establishes that there are certain similarities between these examples and tough constructions but that the examples involving finite complements cannot be subsumed under a predication analysis which seems appropriate for the tough cases. Based on a number of authentic recorded examples, I discuss the processing of utterances with fronted anaphoric pronouns and point to certain similarities with parasitic gaps. The paper closes with a comparison with other Germanic languages.

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This article appears IN Nordic Journal of Linguistics Vol. 35, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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