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Information StructureTheoretical, Typological, and Experimental Perspectives$
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Malte Zimmermann and Caroline Féry

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199570959

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199570959.001.0001

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Information structure and OV order

Information structure and OV order

(p.258) 11 Information structure and OV order
Information Structure

þorbjörg Hróarsdóttir

Oxford University Press

Chapter 11 ‘Information Structure and OV order’ by Þorbjörg Hróarsdóttir studies the change from object‐verb order to verb‐object order. A number of European languages have undergone such a change and here the focus is on the change in Icelandic. Morphological triggers, or the absence thereof, have often been related to clustering of syntactic properties in both diachronic change and acquisition. As seen from the English viewpoint inflectional morphology may express the relevant cue for parameters, and hence the loss of inflection may lead to a grammar change. This paper argues that this analysis does not carry over to Icelandic, as the loss of OV in Icelandic took place despite rich case morphology. Instead, it is argued that the relevant cue may be expressed differently among languages: While it may have been expressed through morphology in English, it was expressed through information structure in Icelandic. In both cases, external effects led to fewer expressions of the relevant (universal) cue and a grammar change took place. It is also shown how Object Shift in Modern Icelandic supports the claim that the placement of the object in Older Icelandic is connected to information structure.

Keywords:   Grammar change, Old/New Information, (Older) Icelandic, OV/VO‐languages, remnant movement

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