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Ásgrímur Angantýsson: The Syntax of Embedded Clauses in Icelandic and Related Languages. Reykjavík: Háskóla Íslands, 2011.

Book review
Authors Elisabet Engdahl
Published in Nordic Journal of Lingguistics
Volume 35
Issue 1
Pages 91–96
ISSN 0332-5865
Publication year 2012
Published at Department of Swedish
Pages 91–96
Language en
Keywords Icelandic, Scandinavian syntax,
Subject categories Linguistics, Scandinavian languages


The extent to which morphology determines syntactic structure has been in focus for much syntactic research over the past two decades. Icelandic has often played a central role in the argumentation because of its rich inflectional system, which distinguishes it from the mainland Scandinavian languages. In this dissertation, Asgrımur Angantysson investigates how certain morpho-syntactic properties of Icelandic may affect the word order in embedded clauses and what consequences this has for syntactic theory. He identifies four relevant constructions where modern Icelandic differs from the mainland Scandinavian languages and 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, Topicalisation in embedded clauses, Stylistic Fronting, with and without Expletive Insertion, and the so- called Transitive Expletive Construction. Each of these constructions has received attention from linguists in recent years, but so far no one has looked in detail at possible correlations between acceptability judgements for all of these constructions. Angantysson is able to provide this thanks to judgement data from approximately 1600 Icelandic speakers of various ages. He has also compared these with judgements from speakers in the Faroe islands, in West Jutland and in Älvdalen in north Dalecarlia, where he has carried out fieldwork within the ScanDiaSyn project.1 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.

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