Negative movement in the history of Norwegian: the evolution of a grammatical virus

John Sundquist

in Grammatical Change

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199582624
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731068 | DOI:
Negative movement in the history of Norwegian: the evolution of a grammatical virus

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This chapter analyzes the Negative Movement (NM) pattern in Norwegian, where, as in other Scandinavian languages, objects containing a negative quantifier (e.g., no books) must appear to the left of the verb, albeit with a slightly archaic or marginal flavour. The chapter is organized as follows. Section 15.2 discusses Complement-Verbmain (XV) and Verbmain-Complement (VX) order, and gives a presentation of word order patterns in Early Norwegian that resemble scrambling, quantifier movement (QM), and NM in modern Germanic languages. These three types of XV word order are described in terms of semantically-driven movement regulated by information structure. QM and NM in nineteenth-century and contemporary Modern Norwegian is also discussed. Section 15.3 discusses NM as a remnant of these once-productive movement operations, framing the discussion in terms of Virus Theory. It examines four characteristics shared by grammatical viruses and point out the similarities between NM and other prestige constructions in Modern Standard English. The chapter concludes with a discussion of Virus Theory as a tool for the description and analysis of data on syntactic variation and change.

Keywords: Negative Movement pattern; negative quantifiers; Complement-Verb; word order; quantifier movement; Virus Theory; syntactic change

Chapter.  8215 words. 

Subjects: Historical and Diachronic Linguistics

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