The Syntax of Icelandic

The Syntax of Icelandic

by Hoskuldur Thrainsson

ISBN-10: 0521591902

ISBN-13: 9780521591904

Pub. Date: 11/05/2007

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Icelandic is a syntactically interesting language, with aspects of its word order, clause structure, agreement patterns and case system arousing much theoretical interest and debate in recent years. This is an informative and accessible guide to the structure of Icelandic, focusing in particular on those characteristics that have contributed greatly to syntactic


Icelandic is a syntactically interesting language, with aspects of its word order, clause structure, agreement patterns and case system arousing much theoretical interest and debate in recent years. This is an informative and accessible guide to the structure of Icelandic, focusing in particular on those characteristics that have contributed greatly to syntactic research. Each chapter is divided into two main sections - providing both a descriptive overview and a discussion of the theoretical and comparative issues invoived - and a wide range of topics are covered, including case, agreement, grammatical relations, thematic roles, word order, clause structure, fronting, extraposition, complements, adjuncts, pronouns and inflection. Also explored in detail are the similarities and differences between Icelandic and other related languages. Presupposing only a basic knowledge of syntax and complete with an extensive bibliography, this comprehensive survey will be an important tool for all those working on the structure of Scandinavian and Germanic languages.

About the Author:
Hoskuldur Thrainsson is Professor in the Department of Icelandic, University of Iceland

Product Details

Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
Cambridge Syntax Guides Series
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.90(d)

Table of Contents

Preface and acknowledgements     ix
Introduction     1
Icelandic and its closest relatives     1
Nominal inflection and agreement     1
Verbal morphology, agreement and auxiliary constructions     8
Word order and clause structure     17
A descriptive overview     17
The basic clause structure assumed     17
The default order of constituents and some variations     21
Alternative subject positions     26
Positions of finite and non-finite verbs     27
Alternative object positions     31
Positions of adverbs     37
Some theoretical and comparative issues     40
The nature of V2     40
Subject positions and functional categories     45
Verbal morphology and embedded word order     58
Object positions, functional categories and properties of objects     64
Adverbs and syntactic structure     79
Order of elements within the phrase     88
A descriptive overview     88
Order within the (extended) noun phrase     88
Order within the (extended) verb phrase     96
Some theoretical and comparative issues     100
Noun Phrase architectureand the order of constituents     100
Verb Phrase architecture and the order of constituents     127
Case, agreement, grammatical relations and thematic roles     146
A descriptive overview     146
Some structural properties of subjects and objects     146
Case marking of subjects, objects and indirect objects     156
Some theoretical and comparative issues     181
Structural and lexical case     181
Morphological case and abstract case     192
Case, semantic association and thematic roles     198
Some changes-and comparison with the other Scandinavian languages     222
Relationship between case and agreement     232
Some comparative notes     242
Passives, middles and unaccusatives     249
A descriptive overview     249
Introduction     249
Regular passivization and thematic roles     250
Passivization of 'impersonal' verbs     257
Prepositional passive, impersonal passive and the expletive passive     262
The New Passive/New Impersonal     273
'Middle verbs' and the passive     283
Unaccusatives     293
Some theoretical and comparative issues     301
Faroese middles, passives and case (non-)preservation     301
Passives and middles in Mainland Scandinavian     306
Impersonal passives in Scandinavian     307
Different types of expletive constructions     309
A descriptive overview     309
Introduction     309
Types of expletive constructions in Icelandic     309
The positions available to the overt expletive in Icelandic     312
The positions available to the associate of the expletive in Icelandic     313
The positional requirements of different associates     317
More on real and apparent exceptions to the Indefiteness Requirement     324
Some theoretical and comparative issues     327
Structural position and role of expletive elements     327
Expletive constructions in the other Scandinavian languages     333
The 'associate positions' revisited     337
The differences - and what can be said about them     339
Fronting, focusing, extraposition and NP-shift     341
A descriptive overview     341
Fronting of non-subjects     341
Topicalization and Wh-movement across clause boundaries     349
Stylistic Fronting and the overt expletive     352
Stylistic Fronting and Topicalization     355
Left Dislocation and Contrastive Dislocation     357
Clefts and relatives     359
Extrapositions and rightward movement     361
Some theoretical and comparative issues     368
Stylistic Fronting vs. Topicalization     368
Stylistic Fronting, expletives and subject gaps     375
Some comparative evidence     376
Possible landing sites and some theoretical proposals     385
Syntactic positions, movements, gaps and information structure     390
Finite and non-finite complements and adjuncts     394
A descriptive overview of finite subordinate clauses     394
Complements vs. adjuncts     394
Tense and mood in complement clauses     395
Distribution of a[eth]-clauses and hv-clauses     402
Tense and mood in adjunct clauses     404
Relative clauses and hv-clauses     406
Complementizer deletion     409
A descriptive overview of infinitive constructions     410
Introduction     410
Independent infinitives     416
Complements of control verbs, including prepositional verbs     418
Complements of modal verbs     421
Complements of aspectual verbs      428
On the distribution of a[eth]-infinitives     430
Accusative with infinitive     436
Nominative with infinitive and raising to subject position     440
Some theoretical and comparative issues     443
Complementizer deletion     443
Extra complementizer elements     448
Some structural properties of control complements     450
AcI, Object Shift, NcI and raising     452
Modal constructions     458
Pronouns, reflexives and empty categories     461
A descriptive overview     461
Basic distribution of reflexive and non-reflexive pronouns in Icelandic     461
Cross-clausal anaphoric dependencies     465
Reflexives inside infinitival complements     473
Empty pronominal elements     475
Some theoretical and comparative issues     483
The standard Binding Theory     483
Pronouns and reflexives in the Scandinavian languages     484
Is Icelandic a pro-drop language?     501
References     505
Index of subjects     530
Index of languages and dialects     555
Index of names     560

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