Thematic Groups

The NORMS project has created ten form-focused subgroups, each investigating a different area of Scandinavian variation. The current groups, and the person responsible for each, are as follows:

1. The syntax of noun phrases Øystein Alexander Vangsnes, Tromsø


Group leader: Øystein Alexander Vangsnes (Tromsø)

Lars-Olof Delsing(Lund)
Jan Terje Faarlund (Oslo)
Madeleine Halmøy (Tromsø)
Janne Bondi Johannessen (Oslo)
Marit Julien (Lund)
Øystein Nilsen (Tromsø/Utrecht)
Toril Opsahl (Oslo)
Knut Tarald Taraldsen (Tromsø)
Camilla Wide (Helsinki)


October 2010:

TENTATIVE! NLVN/RILiVS/NORMS: A series of workshops/meetings for NLVN, RILiVS, and/or NORMS (DP group), early October, University of Iceland.

18-19 March 2009:

Workshop on Determination, Tromsø; invited speakers Tom Leu (Yale) and Tarald Taraldsen (Tromsø); organized by Øystein A. Vangsnes.

22-23 October 2007:

Workshop on Exclamatives!, Tromsø; invited speakers Ellen Brandner, Paul Portner, Kjell Johan Sæbø, Klaus Abels, Lars-Olof Delsing; organized by Øystein A. Vangsnes as a joint workshop for the NORMS Left Periphery and DP groups.


This group has two main aims. First, we seek to establish the range of variation in noun phrase structure throughout the Scandinavian language area. Second, we want to elaborate on previous structural proposals within the generative framework, in order to account for this range of variation. The knowledge about Scandinavian noun phrase structure has grown considerably during the last 20 years. A number of important studies have greatly extended our knowledge. The dialectal variation is partly taken into consideration in some of these studies.

Some of the known variation in noun phrases within the Scandinavian dialect area concerns word order, morphology, and especially the interaction of those. For instance, a general feature of many dialects (from Iceland to Northern Finland) is that they allow both pre- and postnominal possessive pronouns. Prenominal position is often used to mark contrastive focus.

(1) minn bíll (Icelandic)
  men bil (Västerbotten, Sweden)
  my car
(2) bíllinn minn (Icelandic)
  biln men (Västerbotten, Sweden)
  car-the my

As illustrated in (1) the noun has no definite article with a prenominal possessive pronoun, whereas a suffixed definite article is obligatory with a postnominal article. This general pattern does however not hold for all dialects (e.g. the dialects of Skellefteå (N Sweden) and Karleby (N Finland)), where, instead, the noun may carry the suffixed article although the possessive is prenominal. There is an interesting correlation with (lack of) gender distinctions in this case. In other dialects, such as Faroese, the noun may lack the suffixed article when the possessive pronoun is postnominal, and in yet other dialects this is possible (or obligatory) only with certain nouns, mainly kinship nouns like mother or friend. Proprial possessors differ from ordinary possessor nouns and pronominal possessors in many dialects, and many dialects have periphrastic possessive constructions. The distribution and properties of this variation need to be investigated further.

Another feature of Scandinavian noun-phrases that hopefully may shed some light on the basic structure are constructions with attributive adjectives. Within generative theory there are competing analyses on the status of adjectives in noun phrases. Scandinavian dialects have special constructions that might shed some light on these matters. In (3) the well-known difference between double and single definiteness is shown. It occurs only when the noun phrase contains an adjective.

(3) det store hus (Danish)
  det stora huset (Swedish)
  the big house-the

In Northern Swedish the prenominal article is lacking and the adjective is compounded with the adjective: storhuse.

We also find special constructions in indefinite noun phrases with adjectives. In a large part of Northern Sweden and Norway, we find the so called postadjectival article, which follows the adjectives in the noun phrase.

(4) en stor en ful en svart en katta (Västerbotten)
  a big an ugly a black a cat  

The extension of this article is quite well known, but it lacks a good analysis. It is clear that it is syntactic since it is not repeated in co-ordinations, at least not in Västerbotten and Norrbotten.

(5) en stor (*en) å ful en svart en katta (Västerbotten)
  a big     an and ugly a black a cat  

In other dialects it seems more clear that the element is morphological. In some dialects both are used: en storan en katt. The distribution of and properties of this morphological article need to the investigated further.

The Scandinavian article system also shows a great deal of variety with regard to other kinds of articles. The indefinite article is missing in Icelandic, and Northern Swedish has a prenominal “partitive article” used with uncountables and plurals.

At the present stage, there is great consensus about the DP-analysis, i.e. the proposal that the article reside in a functional projection that heads the noun phrase. With regard to the specific solutions to account for possessors and double definiteness, there are however several different suggestions. The status of the attributive adjective is even more debated. In recent work, the NP is often embedded under an nP (parallel to vP in the extended projection of the verb). Examples like the ones mentioned above are likely to shed more light on the structure of the noun phrase, in so far as we can describe their geographical distribution and the syntactic conditions for their occurrence.


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2. Verb placement in main and embedded clauses Höskuldur Thráinsson, Reykjavík
3. The syntax of the left periphery Kristine Bentzen, Tromsø
4. Object shift Sten Vikner, Århus
5. Verb particle constructions Peter Svenonius, Tromsø
6. Argument structure Christer Platzack, Lund
7. Subject types Tor Anders Åfarli, Trondheim
8. Auxiliaries and modality Kristin Melum Eide, Trondheim
9. Pragmatic particles Jan-Ola Östman, Helsinki
10. Negation and negative polarity Janne Bondi Johannessen, Oslo