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Comments and Questions at Ásgrímur Angantýsson's Doctoral Defence

Book review
Authors Elisabet Engdahl
Published in Íslenskt mál
Volume 33
Pages 167–173
ISSN 0256-842X
Publication year 2011
Published at Department of Swedish
Pages 167–173
Language en
Keywords Icelandic, Scandinavian syntax,
Subject categories Scandinavian languages


This dissertation represents a successful combination of theoretical exploration and thorough empirical work. The author has investigated four constructions where modern Icelandic differs from the mainland Scandinavian languages and, as is shown in the dissertation, also to some extent from modern Faroese. The relevant constructions involve the order of sentential adverbs and the finite verb in various kinds of subordinate clauses, Topicalization in embedded clauses, Stylistic Fronting + Expletive Insertion and the so called Transitive Expletive Construction. Each of these has received attention from linguists in recent years, but so far no one has looked in detail at possible correlations between the acceptability judgments for all of these constructions. In addition to providing a careful and motivated syntactic analysis of the constructions, the author has consulted judgment data from approximately 1600 Icelandic speakers of various ages and compared these with judgments from speakers in the Faroe Islands, in Western Jutland and in Älvdalen in north Dalecarlia, where he has carried out fieldwork within the ScanDiaSyn project. In some cases he has supplemented the questionnaire data with corpus studies. The result is a comprehensive overview of the actual use of these constructions in Modern Icelandic, together with a balanced assessment of the various clause type structures that are relevant for the Scandinavian languages.

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