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Article

Danish  

Eva Skafte Jensen

Danish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 6 million people. Genealogically, it is related to the other Germanic languages, in particular the other North Germanic languages (Swedish, Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroese), but also, for example, German, Dutch, and English; typologically, Modern Danish is closer to Norwegian and Swedish than to any other language. Historically deriving from Proto-Germanic, Danish morphology once had three grammatical genders (the masculine, the feminine, and the neuter) and case inflection (nominative, accusative, dative, and genitive) in all nominal words; it also had inflection for mood, tense, number, and person in the verbal conjugations. In Modern Standard Danish, much of the traditional nominal and verbal inflection has disappeared. Instead, other kinds of morphosyntactic constructions and structures have emerged. Middle Danish and Modern Danish are typologically very different languages. One of the structural innovations linked to the typological change is that a syntactic subject becomes obligatory in Danish sentences. Correlated to this, Danish develops expletive constructions with det ‘it’ and der ‘there’. Another important point differentiating Middle Danish from Modern Danish concerns agreement. Traditional Indo-European agreement (verbal as well as nominal) has receded in favor of more fixed word order, both on the sentence level and internally within phrases. As part of this, Modern Danish has developed a set of definite and indefinite articles. The traditional three genders are reduced to two (common and neuter) and have developed new syntactic-semantic functions alongside the traditional lexically distributed functions. In the verbal systems, Danish makes use of two different kinds of passive voice (a periphrastic and an inflected one), which carry different meanings, and also of two different auxiliaries in perfective constructions, that is, have ‘have’ and være ‘be’, the latter doubling as an auxiliary in periphrastic passive constructions. Perfective constructions are made up by an auxiliary and the supine form of the main verb. Danish is a V2-language with a relatively fixed word order, often depicted in the form of the so-called sentence frame, a topological model designed specifically for Danish. Like most other Germanic languages, Danish has a rich set of modal particles. All these morphosyntactic features, Danish shares with Swedish and Norwegian, but the distribution is not completely identical in the three languages, something that makes the Mainland Scandinavian languages an interesting study object to the typologically interested linguist. Exclusive for Danish is the so-called stød, a suprasegmental prosodic feature, used as a distinctive feature. Modern Danish is strongly standardized with only little of the traditional dialectal variation left. From the end of the 20th century, in the larger cities, new sociolects have emerged, that is, multi-ethnolects. The new multi-ethnolects are based on a substrate of Danish with lexical features from the languages of Central Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. In addition to the lexical innovations, the multi-ethnolects are characteristic in intonation patterns different from Standard Danish, and they have morphosyntactic features different from Standard Danish, for example, in word order and in the use of gender.

Article

Etymology and the Lexical Core of Germanic  

Robert Mailhammer

Etymologies are statements about the origin and history of linguistic items (words and structures). Typically, an etymology gives information about what historical period of a language a word or a structure was created and what kinds of processes were involved, as well as about its subsequent history. Usually, etymologies involve the reconstruction of parts or all of an item’s history including the original formation. A reconstruction is a hypothesis about the form and meaning of an ancestral form and the changes it has undergone to yield the oldest attested form. This hypothesis is based on language-internal data and data from related languages as well as our knowledge about language change. The use of comparative data is key for determining and reconstructing the ancestral form of a linguistic item. One important property of reconstructions, and hence of etymologies, is that they are probabilistic; that is, they are hypotheses that are more or less likely to be correct. Etymologies of high quality have a high level of reliability or confidence, whereas etymologies of low quality are generally only weakly supported. There is a range of factors influencing the quality of an etymology, and it is important to make clear how well-supported etymologies are when considering the etymological situation of the whole or a part of the vocabulary of a language. Two pivotal factors are the degree to which sound correspondences and related changes are regular and the strength of the correspondence pattern in terms of correspondence sets and equations. There is a significant body of work of etymological research on Germanic. This work can be broadly categorized into studies that etymologize words in a given daughter language and studies that take a more comparative approach. The focus of the literature has been on finding connections within the Indo-European family and explaining Germanic and its lexicon in terms of their development from Proto-Indo-European. Nonetheless, it is well known that the Germanic lexicon contains loans from other Indo-European languages, especially from Celtic and Latin, such as PGmc. *tūna- ‘fence’ (e.g., OHG zūn ‘fence’) borrowed from Proto-Celtic *dūno ‘fort, rampart’. It is also common knowledge that a substantial part of the Germanic vocabulary is of unclear origin. The exact amount of non-etymologized vocabulary in the Germanic lexicon is unknown, but existing quantitative data suggest that the standard figure quoted in the literature of one third is too low. However, mainstream literature has not systematically investigated Germanic words of unknown origin with the aim of finding contact etymologies that satisfy the standard requirements of contact linguistics. Since the second half of the 20th century, non-Indo-European elements in the Germanic lexicon have received more attention. The majority of hypotheses involves substratum languages. By contrast, one key observation based on what is known about outcomes of language contact, supported by well-studied cases, is that it is quite likely that some of these non-etymologized words were borrowed from non-Indo-European languages, and it is also likely that at least some of these words are from a superstratum rather than a substratum. Relevant lexical items belong to semantic domains such as warfare, the legal system, and administration, for example, PGmc. *fulka- ‘divison’ (of an army), *sibjō ‘family, clan’, *aþal-/*aþil-/*aþil- ‘nobility, noble’. Moreover, non-etymologized words relating to superior cultural innovations, for example, terms of coins (PGmc. *skellingaz/*skillinaz ‘shilling’ and PGmc. *pan(n)(d)ing ‘penny’) and agricultural innovations (PGmc. *plōg- ‘(wheel) plough’) also fit better with superstratum influence than with substratum influence. Furthermore, it is also important to highlight that words of unknown origin form part of the lexical core of Germanic, for example, *erþō ‘earth’, *handuz ‘hand’, *stainaz ‘stone’, *drinkanan ‘drink’. Whatever the origin of the hitherto non-etymologized words in the PGmc. lexicon, it is to be expected that a sizable part of them are of non-Indo-European origin. Given the significant implications for the cultural history of the people who spoke Proto-Germanic and their contemporaries, it seems well worth investigating the extra-Indo-European connections of Proto-Germanic in spite of the challenges.

Article

Nominal Inflectional Morphology in Germanic: Adjectives  

Hans-Olav Enger

The article surveys the different types of adjective inflection: gradation and agreement. Agreement inflection on adjectives in Germanic can involve gender, number, case, and strong/weak (definiteness). The languages differ in their agreement inflection. The different modes of exponence for the different inflections are shown (e.g., periphrasis, affixation, and vowel change). There are adjectives that are defective and those that are completely indeclinable. The article also surveys deviations such as suppletion and syncretisms. The article shows how the notion of construction may be relevant for Germanic adjective inflection, how there is a difference between attributive and predicative use in that the former typically involves “more inflection,” and this is also shown for cases of semantic agreement. Perhaps some differences between Germanic languages in their adjective inflection relate to sociolinguistic factors.

Article

Swedish  

Erik M. Petzell

Swedish is a V2 language, like all Germanic except English, with a basic VO word order and a suffixed definite article, like all North Germanic. Swedish is the largest of the North Germanic languages, and the official language of both Sweden and Finland, in the latter case alongside the majority language Finnish. Worldwide, there are about 10.5 million first-language (L1) speakers. The extent of L2 Swedish speakers is unclear: In Sweden and Finland alone, there are at least 3 million L2 speakers. Genealogically, Swedish is closest to Danish. Together, they formed the eastern branch of North Germanic during the Viking age. Today, this unity of old is often obscured by later developments. Typologically, in the early 21st century, Swedish is closer to Norwegian than to Danish. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there was great dialectal variation across the Swedish-speaking area. Very few of the traditional dialects have survived into the present, however. In the early 21st century, there are only some isolated areas, where spoken standard Swedish has not completely taken over, for example, northwestern Dalecarlia. Spoken standard Swedish is quite close to the written language. This written-like speech was promoted by primary school teachers from the late 19th century onward. In the 21st century, it comes in various regional guises, which differ from each other prosodically and display some allophonic variation, for example, in the realization of /r/. During the late Middle Ages, Swedish was in close contact with Middle Low German. This had a massive impact on the lexicon, leading to loans in both the open and closed classes and even import of derivational morphology. Structurally, Swedish lost case and verbal agreement morphology, developed mandatory expletive subjects, and changed its word order in subordinate clauses. Swedish shares much of this development with Danish and Norwegian. In the course of the early modern era, Swedish and Norwegian converged further, developing very similar phonological systems. The more conspicuous of the shared traits include two different rounded high front vowels, front /y/ and front-central /ʉ/, palatalization of initial /k/ and /g/ before front vowels, and a preserved phonemic tonal distinction. As for morphosyntax, however, Swedish has sometimes gone its own way, distancing itself from both Norwegian and Danish. For instance, Swedish has a distinct non-agreeing active participle (supine), and it makes use of the morphological s-passive in a wider variety of contexts than Danish and Norwegian. Moreover, verbal particles always precede even light objects in Swedish, for example, ta upp den, literally ‘take up it’, while Danish and Norwegian patterns with, for example, English: tag den op/ta den opp, literally ‘take it up’. Furthermore, finite forms of auxiliary have may be deleted in subordinate clauses in Swedish but never in Danish/Norwegian.

Article

Unsettling Imperial Science: Centering Convivial Scholarship in Sociolinguistics  

Finex Ndhlovu

The universalizing posture of claims made by colonial approaches and their regimes of representation continues to inform most mainstream sociolinguistics research agendas and project designs. Such claims reflect an imperial scientific tradition that overlooks and marginalizes other ways of knowing, particularly those from communities of the global South. Decolonizing sociolinguistics entails doing at least three things. First, we must decolonize ourselves through critical reflection on our own practices and how such practices contribute to the continuation of inequalities in knowledge production and in society. Second is the need to develop new narratives, new words, new grammars, and new vocabularies for eliciting empirical data to support the suppositions and arguments we advance in our anti-conventional and anti-colonial theoretical approaches to language and society research. Such alternative trajectories require a decentering of the dominant (colonial/imperial) voice and an increase in other voices speaking from other equally valid approaches that are currently being overlooked. Third, decolonizing sociolinguistics entails developing new models that draw on a rich collection of thought from a broad spectrum of traditions of knowing. This is about promoting convivial scholarship through mobilizing diverse resources to advance collaborative engagements that link our academic pursuits to public interests, including the interests of marginalized, minority, and global Indigenous communities. Convivial scholarship says the paths we follow in doing sociolinguistics research must be those that are committed to re-membering and rehumanizing Indigenous and other Southern peoples subjected to more than 500 years of coloniality. Decolonizing sociolinguistics must, therefore, mean freeing the field from the colonial tradition of knowing by bringing back to the center historically marginalized Indigenous and Southern knowledge systems. The premise is that a sociolinguistics that works for all must open pathways and avenues for epistemic access and cognitive justice through valuing diverse founts of knowledges as key contours.

Article

Agreement in Germanic  

Haldór Ármann Sigurðsson

There are four major types of agreement in Germanic: finite verb agreement, primary predicate agreement, secondary predicate agreement, and DP-internal concord, and there is extensive variation among the Germanic languages across all these agreement phenomena. Icelandic commonly has five distinct person/number forms of verbs, while Afrikaans and the mainland Scandinavian languages (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish) have no person/number distinctions of verbs, with the other languages positioning themselves between these extremes. Standard varieties of West-Germanic languages (Afrikaans, Dutch, English, German, Yiddish, West-Frisian,) have no predicate agreement, whereas standard varieties of Scandinavian languages (Icelandic, Faroese, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish) all have both primary and secondary predicate agreement. There is, however, quite some variation in predicate agreement within the Scandinavian languages. The Mainland Scandinavian languages have gender/number agreement of both primary and secondary predicates, albeit with some variation as to whether only predicative adjectives or both predicative adjectives and past participles show agreement (and also as to when past participles show agreement). The Insular Scandinavian languages (Faroese and Icelandic), on the other hand, have case agreement, in addition to gender/number agreement, of both primary and secondary predicates, either adjectives or past participles (e.g., Icelandic primary predicate agreement: “He.nom.m.sg was drunk.nom.m.sg”; secondary predicate agreement: “She.nom.f.sg met him.acc.m.sg drunk.acc.m.sg” [he was drunk] versus. “She.nom.f.sg met him.acc.m.sg drunk.nom.f.sg” [she was drunk]). Case agreement in these two languages commonly disambiguates secondary predicate structures. Afrikaans has no concord of DP-internal modifiers (articles, adjectives, etc.), whereas the other West-Germanic languages have some DP-concord, poorest in English, richest in German (which has gender/number/case concord of a number of categories, most clearly the articles). The Mainland Scandinavian languages also have some DP-concord (gender/number), while DP-concord is extensive in Faroese and Icelandic (gender/number/case of articles, demonstrative determiners, adjectives, some numerals, indefinite pronouns, floating quantifiers, and some possessive pronouns). The Germanic languages are a relatively small and closely knit language family, so the extensive agreement variation within this small family is a major challenge to any general theory of agreement.

Article

Chinese Verbs and Lexical Distinction  

Meichun Liu

Chinese verbs behave very differently from their counterparts in Indo-European languages and pose interesting challenges to the study of syntax-semantic interface for theoretical and applicational linguistics. The lexical semantic distinctions encoded in the Chinese verbal lexicon are introduced with a thorough review of previous works from different approaches with different concerns and answers. The recent development in constructing a digital database of verbal information in Mandarin Chinese, the Mandarin VerbNet, is also introduced, which offers frame-based constructional analyses of the Chinese verbs and verb classes. Finally, a case study on Chinese emotion verbs is presented to illustrate the unique properties of lexicalization patterns in Chinese verbs. In general, due to its typological characteristics in coding a Topic, rather than a Subject, as a prominent element in the sentence, Chinese shows a more flexible range of form-meaning mapping relations in lexical distinctions.

Article

Negation in Germanic  

Johan Brandtler and Anne Breitbarth

This article focuses on the formal expression of sentential negation in the Germanic languages and its diachronic development. Not surprisingly, the Germanic languages share a number of characteristics with regard to negation. 1. With the exception of English, the Germanic languages use symmetric strategies of negating a clause: negative clauses are distinguished from affirmative clauses only by the presence of a negative marker. 2. In the historical development of the Germanic languages, standard negation has undergone a general change from preverbal particle to post-verbal adverb. 3. The standard varieties of the modern Germanic languages lack negative concord (NC), that is, the possibility of having two negative elements jointly expressing sentential negation. In this article, each of these three aspects is discussed in more detail. It is shown that the historical changes leading up to the present set of standard negators in the extant Germanic languages can be subsumed under the more general principle known as Jespersen’s Cycle: the original expression of negation is first joined and later replaced by a new expression. In the second part of the article, we discuss the diachronic development of different types of negative concord in the Germanic languages.

Article

Object Shift and Object Scrambling in Germanic  

Hans Broekhuis

The literature often makes a terminological distinction between object shift and object scrambling in case of leftward object movement in the Scandinavian and the Continental West Germanic languages, respectively. This reflects the theoretical claim originating from the 1980s that we are dealing with two different syntactic rules. It has become increasingly clear, however, that the notion of scrambling is used as an umbrella term for different kinds of movement. This review shows that there are good reasons for assuming that object shift and one specific kind of scrambling can be characterized as A-movement (i.e., movement of arguments related to case assignment and agreement) of the object(s) triggered by structural case features. This motivates a revaluation of the data that led to the earlier conclusion that object shift and scrambling behave differently with respect to Holmberg’s generalization, as well as a discussion of the linguistic nature of this generalization.

Article

Tense, Aspect, and Mood in Germanic  

Thilo Weber

Tense, aspect, and mood are grammatical categories concerned with different notional facets of the event or situation conveyed by a given clause. They are prototypically expressed by the verbal system. Tense can be defined as a category that relates points or intervals in time to one another; in a most basic model, those include the time of the event or situation referred to and the speech time. The former may precede the latter (“past”), follow it (“future”), or be simultaneous with it (or at least overlap with it; “present”). Aspect is concerned with the internal temporal constituency of the event or situation, which may be viewed as a single whole (“perfective”) or with particular reference to its internal structure (“imperfective”), including its being ongoing at a certain point in time (“progressive”). Mood, in a narrow, morphological sense, refers to the inflectional realization of modality, with modality encompassing a large and varying set of sub-concepts such as possibility, necessity, probability, obligation, permission, ability, and volition. In the domain of tense, all Germanic languages make a distinction between non-past and past. In most languages, the opposition can be expressed inflectionally, namely, by the present and preterite (indicative). All modern languages also have a periphrastic perfect as well as periphrastic forms that can be used to refer to future events. Aspect is characteristically absent as a morphological category across the entire family, but most, if not all, modern languages have periphrastic forms for the expression of aspectual categories such as progressiveness. Regarding mood, Germanic languages are commonly described as distinguishing up to three such form paradigms, namely, indicative, imperative, and a third one referred to here as subjunctive. Morphologically distinct subjunctive forms are, however, more typical of earlier stages of Germanic than they are of most present-day languages.